Items in AFP with MESH term: Aged
ABSTRACT: Osteoarthritis is one of the most prevalent and disabling chronic conditions affecting older adults and a significant public health problem among adults of working age. As the bulk of the U.S. population ages, the prevalence of osteoarthritis is expected to rise. Although the incidence of osteoarthritis increases with age, the condition is not a normal part of the aging process. More severe symptoms tend to occur in the radiographically more advanced stage of the disease; however, considerable discrepancy may exist between symptoms and the radiographic stage. Roentgenograms of involved joints may be useful in confirming the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, assessing the severity of the disease, reassuring the patient and excluding other pathologic conditions. The diagnosis of osteoarthritis is based primarily on the history and physical examination, but radiographic findings, including asymmetric joint space narrowing, subchondral sclerosis, osteophyte formation, subluxation and distribution patterns of osteoarthritic changes, can be helpful when the diagnosis is in question.
Geriatric Failure to Thrive - Article
ABSTRACT: In elderly patients, failure to thrive describes a state of decline that is multifactorial and may be caused by chronic concurrent diseases and functional impairments. Manifestations of this condition include weight loss, decreased appetite, poor nutrition, and inactivity. Four syndromes are prevalent and predictive of adverse outcomes in patients with failure to thrive: impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression, and cognitive impairment. Initial assessments should include information on physical and psychologic health, functional ability, socioenvironmental factors, and nutrition. Laboratory and radiologic evaluations initially are limited to a complete blood count, chemistry panel, thyroid-stimulating hormone level, urinalysis, and other studies that are appropriate for an individual patient. A medication review should ensure that side effects or drug interactions are not a contributing factor to failure to thrive. The impact of existing chronic diseases should be assessed. Interventions should be directed toward easily treatable causes of failure to thrive, with the goal of maintaining or improving overall functional status. Physicians should recognize the diagnosis of failure to thrive as a key decision point in the care of an elderly person. The diagnosis should prompt discussion of end-of-life care options to prevent needless interventions that may prolong suffering.
ABSTRACT: Hospital admission for congestive heart failure is extremely common and quite expensive, although it is frequently preventable. New drugs and therapies have been reported to reduce admissions, decrease morbidity and mortality, and improve the quality of life for these patients. Patients with an ejection fraction less than 40 percent (decreased systolic function) should be treated with medication to improve symptoms and prevent progression of heart failure. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are a mainstay of treatment in patients who can tolerate them; in patients who cannot take these drugs, angiotensin II receptor blocking agents offer an alternative. Patients with New York Heart Association class II or III heart failure should also receive a beta blocker (metoprolol, carvedilol or bisoprolol). Recent research has shown that treatment with spironolactone improves mortality and hospital readmission rates. An exercise program should also be recommended for all patients with heart failure unless their condition is unstable.
Seizure Disorders in the Elderly - Article
ABSTRACT: Seizure disorders become increasingly common after the age of 60 years and can have a significant impact on functional status. The goal of antiepileptic drug therapy is to control seizures but preserve quality of life. If possible, seizure control should be achieved with one agent given in the lowest effective dosage. Clinical response, rather than drug levels, should guide dosage changes. All antiepileptic drugs can cause dose-dependent sedation and cognitive impairment. Although the newer agents may have theoretical advantages over standard antiepileptic agents, higher cost may limit their use. Drugs for first-line monotherapy of seizures in elderly patients include carbamazepine, valproic acid, oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, and lamotrigine.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians play a key role in assessing and managing patients with Alzheimer's disease and in linking the families of these patients to supportive services within the community. As part of comprehensive management, the family physician may be responsible for coordinating assessments of patient function, cognition, comorbid medical conditions, disorders of mood and emotion, and caregiver status. Suggestions for easily administered and scored assessment tools are provided, and practical tips are given for supporting primary caregivers, thereby increasing efficiency and quality of care for patients with Alzheimer's disease.
ABSTRACT: Hypodermoclysis, the subcutaneous infusion of fluids, is a useful and easy hydration technique suitable for mildly to moderately dehydrated adult patients, especially the elderly. The method is considered safe and does not pose any serious complications. The most frequent adverse effect is mild subcutaneous edema that can be treated by local massage or systemic diuretics. Approximately 3 L can be given in a 24-hour period at two separate sites. Common infusion sites are the chest, abdomen, thighs and upper arms. The preferred solution is normal saline, but other solutions, such as half-normal saline, glucose with saline or 5 percent glucose, can also be used. Potassium chloride can be added to the solution bag if needed. Hyaluronidase can also be added to enhance fluid absorption. Hypodermoclysis can be administered at home by family members or a nurse; the technique should be familiar to every family physician.
ABSTRACT: Neurologic complications continue to pose problems in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. From 15 to 30 percent of metastases are the result of prostate cancer cells traveling through Batson's plexus to the lumbar spine. Metastatic disease in the lumbar area can cause spinal cord compression. Metastasis to the dura and adjacent parenchyma occurs in 1 to 2 percent of patients with metastatic prostate cancer and is more common in those with tumors that do not respond to hormone-deprivation therapy. Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, the most frequent form of brain metastasis in prostate cancer, has a grim prognosis. Because neurologic complications of metastatic prostate cancer require prompt treatment, early recognition is important. Physicians should consider metastasis in the differential diagnosis of new-onset low back pain or headache in men more than 50 years of age. Spinal cord compression requires immediate treatment with intravenously administered corticosteroids and pain relievers, as well as prompt referral to an oncologist for further treatment.
ABSTRACT: Grief and depression present similarly in patients who are dying. Conventional symptoms (e.g., frequent crying, weight loss, thoughts of death) used to assess for depression in these patients may be imprecise because these symptoms are also present in preparatory grief and as a part of the normal dying process. Preparatory grief is experienced by virtually all patients who are dying and can be facilitated with psychosocial support and counseling. Ongoing pharmacotherapy is generally not beneficial and may even be harmful to patients who are grieving. Evidence of disturbed self-esteem, hopelessness, an active desire to die and ruminative thoughts about death and suicide are indicative of depression in patients who are dying. Physicians should have a low threshold for treating depression in patients nearing the end of life because depression is associated with tremendous suffering and poor quality of life.
ABSTRACT: Depression is a common psychiatric disorder in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Primary care physicians, not mental health professionals, treat the majority of patients with symptoms of depression. Persons who are depressed have feelings of sadness, loneliness, irritability, worthlessness, hopelessness, agitation, and guilt that may be accompanied by an array of physical symptoms. A diagnosis of major depression requires that symptoms be present for two weeks or longer. Identifying patients with depression can be difficult in busy primary care settings where time is limited, but certain depression screening measures may help physicians diagnose the disorder. Patients who score above the predetermined cut-off levels on the screening measures should be interviewed more specifically for a diagnosis of a depressive disorder and treated within the primary care physician's scope of practice or referred to a mental health subspecialist as clinically indicated. Targeted screening in high-risk patients such as those with chronic diseases, pain, unexplained symptoms, stressful home environments, or social isolation, and those who are postnatal or elderly may provide an alternative approach to identifying patients with depression.
ABSTRACT: Regular exercise provides a myriad of health benefits in older adults, including improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, lipid profile, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and neurocognitive function. Regular physical activity is also associated with decreased mortality and age-related morbidity in older adults. Despite this, up to 75 percent of older Americans are insufficiently active to achieve these health benefits. Few contraindications to exercise exist and almost all older persons can benefit from additional physical activity. The exercise prescription consists of three components: aerobic exercise, strength training, and balance and flexibility. Physicians play a key role in motivating older patients and advising them regarding their physical limitations and/or comorbidities. Motivating patients to begin exercise is best achieved by focusing on individual patient goals, concerns, and barriers to exercise. Strategies include the "stages of change" model, individualized behavioral therapy, and an active lifestyle. To increase long-term compliance, the exercise prescription should be straightforward, fun, and geared toward a patient's individual health needs, beliefs, and goals.