Care of Geriatric Population
Geriatrics is a branch of medicine that centers around the care, health and well-being of the elderly population. Rather than focusing on the standard adolescent or adult population, geriatric medicine focuses on the aging process and how the body physiologically changes with age. There are no specific qualifications that categorize a patient as being geriatric because each patient ages biologically different. 65-years of age is when society labels people senior citizens; this distinction formed as it is the accepted age for retirement from the workforce, it is not necessarily medically applicable. Patients generally do not require geriatric-specific care until they reach 70 to 80 years of age. The rate at which people age is unique to each patient and dependent on various factors, but as patients age, many impairments begin to surface and at an increasing rate. These conditions are commonly referred to as geriatric giants and consist of things such as incontinence, immobility, and loss of memory, vision, and hearing. However, the most common issue facing geriatric patients is delirium. This condition is widespread for geriatric hospitalized patients in which there are severe changes in brain function that results in the patient becoming very disoriented.
The Natural Aging Process
The natural aging process begins in early adulthood and gradually increases through middle age, during which bodily functions start to slowly decline. It can be witnessed through balding, and loss of vision or hearing, among other examples. The degree to which people experience the symptoms of aging is contributed to many factors, including inherited genetics and lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise. Some people may not feel the effects of aging until well into their 50s, while others may start in their late 20s or early 30s. While not everything is within your control, eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco, all have a positive impact on your health. Exposure to environmental toxins may also play a role in the aging process and can shorten life expectancy.
Decline in Activity and Wellness as Seniors Age
Generally, as a patient reaches 65-years of age, their lifestyle starts to change, and their normal day to day activity drops as they reach retirement. Unfortunately, what is also seen is that during this slowdown from work, the patient also starts to put less focus on keeping healthy nutritional habits and reduce the amount they normally exercise. The combination of lower mental stimulation, decreased daily physical activity, less planned exercise, and poor nutrition has a significant contribution in exasperating the natural aging process. A study in 2000 from the Journal of the American Geriatric Society reports that inactive women at age 65 have a life expectancy of 12.7 years, whereas highly active, non-smoking women at 65 have a life expectancy of 18.4 years. A report from the CDC indicates that very few older Americans get 30 minutes or more exercise for five days a week or more. The report states that up to 34% of adults age 65 to 74 are inactive, and up to 44% or almost half of adults age 75 are inactive.
Annual Wellness Plans for Seniors
Annual Wellness Plans are essential preventive medicine tools, important at any age; they become increasingly important as we age. Meeting with a preventive medicine physician on an annual basis to create a yearly plan for maintaining or improving health and wellness through various screening and testing tools as well as creating healthy lifestyle plans to combat high-risk indicators. Heart and Health Medical offers its exclusive Medicare VIP program, which takes an elderly patient through the complete process at no cost or copays to patients with Medicare. If you currently do not participate in an annual wellness plan with your primary care physician, it is recommended that you schedule one as soon as possible to increase health indicators, as well as early detection of chronic disease to improve the outcome of treatment.
Common Medical Problems in the Elderly Population
While medical conditions can, and commonly do, develop at any age, the elderly population is at a higher risk for most chronic diseases or may have been managing one or multiple chronic diseases for a prolonged period. Also, while some of these conditions may occur at a younger age, they present more symptoms and complications as the elderly patient’s immune system weakens with age. Below is a list of diseases prevalent in the elderly population.
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Back Pain
- Lack of Strength
- Eye Problems
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Other Immune Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Problems of the Prostate Gland
- Urinary Incontinence
Finding Primary Care Doctors for Elderly Patients In Your Area
Finding a primary care doctor in your area who has the expertise, experience, and facilities to provide the highest level of geriatric medical care is important. Heart and Health Medical has a full team of primary care doctors, Internists, and other medical specialists to ensure the best possible treatment practices. If your looking for a new primary care doctor or would like to add an Annual Wellness Plan at no cost through Heart and Health’s Medicare VIP program, contact us today for more information.