Aging is something we shy away from. Somehow we hope go be young foever and we want to remain smooth and fresh for as long as we can. We shove the topic to one side while we invest in expensive treatment, procedures, makeup… until…
Until the greys start coming…
And the wrinkles start forming…
And yeah, those arthritis are a rude reminder…
Don’t even start with the memory loss…
Kids leave. Grandkids are born. Friends begin to die. Likewise spouse. And the house is too big. And the need to downsize becomes super-obvious.
And the reality sets in: “Embrace it. There’s nothingyou can do about it”.
The World Population is aging. And that’s a fact. It is estimated that by 2045, there will be more people over 65 than there are people under 15.
While the developed countries are sort of used to aged population, the developing world are not really prepared for it, despite the fact that they are having the most rapidly increasing number of older people.
Challenges of the Elderly
Some of the personal problems associated with growing old include the following:
Coming to terms with their immortality.
Increasing incidence of chronic noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension and cardiac disease.
Loss of friends family and loved ones.
Loss of employment, income and properties.
Constant change in weight, height, hair and body statistics.
Skipped generation parenting with the elderly caring for the grandchildren.
Adult children depending on the pensions of their elderly parents.
Being old is also plagued by some organizational and health systemissues such as:
Marginalization of geriatric services – as these receive less attention than say paediatric or maternal care.
Access has become more difficult for the frail elderly patients.
Poorly frail care personnel
Government cutting funding for old age and frail care.
Some countries particularly in Africa do not even have any kind of funding for these individuals.
Health Problems in the Elderly
Old age impacts all systems in the body. The body is old, and unashamedly so.
Assessment of the Elderly
As a healthcare worker with a geriatric (elderly) patient/client:
Assess the patient first.
Ask for emotional cause underlying any direct request which the patient may make.
Don’t adjust medications based on family request
MMSE always. Mini mental state examination.
Due to multiple comorbid conditions in elderly, they often consume a whole lot of medications. Prescription drug expenditures are highest for people age 65 and older. And those over 80 years spend more than 1.5 times more than age 64-80!
While prescribing medications to them, avoid polypharmacy as much as possible. For all medications – start low and go slow. Don’t give pills for all ailments considering that all systems are down in the elderly. And consider nonpharmacologic approach first if possible
Risk of Hospitalization of the Elderly
It is important to avoid unnecessary hospitalization of the Elderly age group.
There are often high bed and rails in the hospiral
Prolonged bed rest and immobilization in the hospital is counterproductive
Isolation often lead to symptoms of depression and delirium in them
Hospital food… tastes horrible oftentimes to them.
When institutionalized for examle in the hospital, the following maybe helpful:
Reality orientation with calendar and clock.
Early Discharge from the hospital.
Cover Picture: Valentina Yasen, 62 Years Old Model