Basics to Geriatric Medicine
Geriatric is a medical specialty that focuses on aging and health conditions associated with old age. A trained and qualified geriatrician specializes in treating old people of ages 60 years and older. Most of these old people are healthy though some may be affected by various diseases that come with old age. Geriatric medical care tends to get more complex as one grows older. Also, the conditions may vary. A condition that affects one person does not mean that it must affect the other, even if they are in the same age bracket. Here are the basic facts that you should know about geriatric medicine:
1. Aging is not a disease
Unlike the popular notion, aging is not a disease. Just because a person has grown older doesn’t necessarily mean that they are sick. It is just that they have advanced in age. Aging does not in any way trigger symptoms of a health condition. It only increases susceptibility to various diseases and health conditions. Those diseases are responsible for the symptoms.
Also, the rate of aging varies. It is fast in some people while slow in others. The rate also varies with the state of different body systems. Some people age while still healthy and fit. Others are constantly attacked by different diseases.
2. Health conditions in geriatric patients are chronic and multiple
Old people are susceptible to numerous health conditions. However, they are rarely attacked by a single disease at once, which makes it hard to manage their health.
They are also affected by chronic health conditions. These are diseases that never leave regardless of the treatment used. The treatment of one condition will only trigger other underlying conditions. For effective management of the patient’s health, geriatric care usually combines multiple factors to treat a patient.
3. Most treatable conditions are under-diagnosed
In the geriatric care, age is always a detrimental factor in the treatment of various curable conditions. This is because in case a person suffers from common diseases, caregivers and even professional health workers will blame the age factor. At the end of it, they under-diagnose the condition. This can lead to the reoccurrence of the disease. Common geriatric conditions that are usually under diagnosed include urinary incontinence, delirium, instability, and malnutrition.
Proper geriatric care involves adequate screening for common diseases and other treatable conditions. This eliminates chances of underdiagnosis of illnesses that can be easily treated.
4. Improvement of quality of life
In most cases, old age is usually associated with living in deplorable conditions. Apart from dealing with the health conditions, geriatric care focuses on improving the quality of life. The care analyzes the living condition of the aged and then recommends the ideal social support that will be used to improve their state.
Geriatric care also aims at improving the functional capabilities of the patients as this can go a long way in improving the quality of lives. Various factors and tools are used to measure and determine the quality of life.
5. Social history and personal preferences are highly considered
It is obvious that anyone who is above 60 years old has a rich life history. Besides the physical health condition, geriatric care also focuses on the life history of the patient. This history covers key factors such as place of birth, education, past relationships, family, occupation and even the financial status.
In addition to history, the medicine considers the willingness of a patient to use certain treatment methods and resources. Analyzing the life circumstances can help to administer effective treatments to the old patients. A caregiver will also be in a better position to know the best tools and techniques to use in caring for the aged.
6. Geriatric care is multidisciplinary
Geriatric care is a combination of several disciplines. This is because it does not just focus on restoring one’s physical health. It touches on every essential aspect of a patient’s life. Some of the professionals that come together for the purpose of giving in the geriatric care include nurses, social workers, dieticians, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and pharmacists. By combining all these disciplines, the life and quality of a patient are likely to improve.
Essential social skills such as communication, collaboration, and respect are also incorporated in treating a geriatric patient.
7. Cognitive disorders are included in the geriatric treatment
Seniors are often affected by a drastic change in their cognitive functions. Some of the conditions that can damage the body’s cognitive functions include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, and dementia. These conditions are rarely diagnosed through conventional treatment procedures. A patient may suffer for long without getting the right treatment.
During the geriatric care, routine screenings are done to identify depression, dementia, and other cognitive disorders. The patient is then given right medication depending on the condition.
8. Handling of Iatrogenic diseases
There are various things that occur during a treatment. A patient can react positively to the drugs by healing, or the drugs may trigger adverse side effects in the body. Some reactions can end up worsening an already dangerous condition. Geriatric care helps a patient to overcome the adverse side effects of the drugs. The treatment is optimized towards ensuring that a patient reacts well to the drugs. Some of the reactions that an elderly can experience towards a therapy include immobility, poor stability, and severe headache. In case of any complications, the care will find a way of helping the patient to be safe.
9. Geriatric care can be provided in different settings
There are no set rules for providing geriatric care. The treatment can be provided in different conditions and environments. When it comes to the location, a patient can receive the treatment while at home or in a specialized center. The same applies to the funding. There are no fixed rates for the procedure. However, all the changes must be organized and well-coordinated to prevent the duplication of the treatment.
10. Ethical issues are observed
Geriatric care observes all the ethical issues that arise. This helps to avoid the dilemma that can occur when the patient is at an advanced stage, and critical decisions have to be made. The principals of palliative care are duly followed in providing geriatric care.
In conclusion, geriatric care is not a one-time treatment. It is continuous care that you will continue getting as you advance in age. For this reason, you need to choose a good geriatrician that will provide the best care.