As a growing elderly population faces economic pressures and a societal shift in family dynamics, physicians now are facing different challenges when treating elderly patients as opposed to younger ones.
According to several Mid-South physicians specializing in geriatric medicine, challenges include a lack of available family members to care for elderly relatives, polypharmacy and a shortage of physicians to treat the elderly. Despite the difficulties, physicians say advancements in pharmacology, telemonitoring and a team-based treatment approach can aid in preventing conditions from developing and keep elderly patients out of the hospital.
“We tend to lump older adults together, but a treatment that may work for a 65-year-old isn’t the same for an 85-year-old,” said Robert Burns, MD, a physician with Geriatrics Group of Memphis and professor of preventive medicine with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. “As adults get older, they acquire diseases and health risks increase. A 65-year-old man is still working, robust and healthy. Typically, this isn’t the case for an 85-year-old. The complexity of care increases as the patient ages.”