Geriatric medicine focuses on the preventive, clinical, therapeutic and social aspects of health disorders in the elderly.
Elderly patients usually present multiple complex interdependent health problems. Multiple pathologies, polypharmacy, and functional, mental and social conditioning factors make elderly patients vulnerable, which is why their medical evaluation must be all-inclusive and exhaustive. For this reason, the most widely used assessment model by medical practitioners for geriatric patients is the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA).
As people get older, they become susceptible to memory disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, not all memory disorders are caused by dementia, nor do all memory disorders end in dementia. In many cases, memory disorders have their origin in mood and anxiety disorders that produce an attention deficit that in turn produces memory deficiencies.
- Behavioral disorders.
- Problems walking and recurrent falls.
In patients with dementia, it is the behavioral disorders (agitation, aggression, insomnia, hallucinations, restlessness) that significantly determine the patient’s and their surrounding family and caregivers quality of life. Getting these disorders under control is critically important for the patient’s wellbeing.
Delirium is a medical condition characterised by mental confusion, disorientation and emotional disruption. It may take just a few hours or days to develop and has a fluctuating course (the patient has moments of absolute normal behavior followed by others of complete disorientation). Delirium is a serious medical condition but fortunately it’s causes are usually easy to identify (e.g. infections, medication, constipation, vascular disorders, etc.) and when corrected the delirium usually disappears.
Problems walking and recurrent falls
Recurrent falls in the elderly are seldom random coincidences – they are typically the result of underlying health disorders.
Bone marrow examination
Bone marrow content is aspired via a needle from either the sternum (breastbone) or the iliac crest (hip bone), and later examined. It is a quick outpatient procedure only requiring local anasthesia.
The elderly are susceptible to cardiovascular disease, which refers to problems with the heart and blood vessels. Common symptoms are non-specific, such as shortness of breath, fatigue and fainting, and may be aggravated by other prevalent health disorders in the elderly such as diabetes, medications, pulmonary problems, loss of muscle mass, etc. This necessitates a holistic assessment to determine whether the correction of the cardiovascular disorder alone will improve the patient’s symptoms and overall physical, cognitive and social functionality.