Items in AFP with MESH term: Aging

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Health Screening in Older Women - Article

ABSTRACT: Health screening is an important aspect of health promotion and disease prevention in women over 65 years of age. Screening efforts should address conditions that cause significant morbidity and mortality in this age group. In addition to screening for cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease and cancer, primary care physicians should identify risk factors unique to an aging population. These factors include hearing and vision loss, dysmobility or functional impairment, osteoporosis, cognitive and affective disorders, urinary incontinence and domestic violence. Although screening for many conditions cannot be proved to merit an "A" recommendation (indicating conclusive proof of benefit), special attention to these factors can decrease morbidity and improve quality of life in aging women.


Sleep Problems in the Elderly - Article

ABSTRACT: Refreshing sleep requires both sufficient total sleep time as well as sleep that is in synchrony with the individual's circadian rhythm. Problems with sleep organization in elderly patients typically include difficulty falling asleep, less time spent in the deeper stages of sleep, early-morning awakening and less total sleep time. Poor sleep habits such as irregular sleep-wake times and daytime napping may contribute to insomnia. Caffeine, alcohol and some medications can also interfere with sleep. Primary sleep disorders are more common in the elderly than in younger persons. Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder can disrupt sleep and may respond to low doses of antiparkinsonian agents as well as other drugs. Sleep apnea can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. Evaluation of sleep problems in the elderly includes careful screening for poor sleep habits and other factors that may be contributing to the sleep problem. Formal sleep studies may be needed when a primary sleep disorder is suspected or marked daytime dysfunction is noted. Therapy with a benzodiazepine receptor agonist may be indicated after careful evaluation.


The Older Adult Driver - Article

ABSTRACT: More adults aged 65 and older will be driving in the next few decades. Many older drivers are safe behind the wheel and do not need intensive testing for license renewal. Others, however, have physiologic or cognitive impairments that can affect their mobility and driving safety. When an older patient's driving competency is questioned, a comprehensive, step-by-step assessment is recommended. Many diseases that impair driving ability can be detected and treated effectively by family physicians. Physicians should take an active role in assessing and reducing the risk for injury in a motor vehicle and, when possible, prevent or delay driving cessation in their patients. Referral to other health care professionals, such as an occupational or physical therapist, may be helpful for evaluation and treatment. When an older patient is no longer permitted or able to drive, the physician should counsel the patient about using alternative methods of transportation.


Alcoholism in the Elderly - Article

ABSTRACT: Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are common but underrecognized problems among older adults. One third of older alcoholic persons develop a problem with alcohol in later life, while the other two thirds grow older with the medical and psychosocial sequelae of early-onset alcoholism. The common definitions of alcohol abuse and dependence may not apply as readily to older persons who have retired or have few social contacts. Screening instruments can be used by family physicians to identify older patients who have problems related to alcohol. The effects of alcohol may be increased in elderly patients because of pharmacologic changes associated with aging. Interactions between alcohol and drugs, prescription and over-the-counter, may also be more serious in elderly persons. Physiologic changes related to aging can alter the presentation of medical complications of alcoholism. Management of alcohol withdrawal in elderly persons should be closely supervised by a health care professional. Alcohol treatment programs with an elder-specific focus may improve outcomes in some patients.


Early Diagnosis of Dementia - Article

ABSTRACT: Until recently, the most significant issue facing a family physician regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dementia was ruling out delirium and potentially treatable etiologies. However, as more treatment options become available, it will become increasingly important to diagnose dementia early. Dementia may be suspected if memory deficits are exhibited during the medical history and physical examination. Information from the patient's family members, friends and caregivers may also point to signs of dementia. Distinguishing among age-related cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease may be difficult and requires evaluation of cognitive and functional status. Careful medical evaluation to exclude treatable causes of cognitive impairment is important. Patients with early dementia may benefit from formal neuropsychologic testing to aid in medical and social decision-making. Follow-up by the patient's family physician is appropriate in most patients. However, a subspecialist may be helpful in the diagnosis and management of patients with dementia with an unusual presentation or following an atypical course.


Anemia in Children - Article

ABSTRACT: Anemia in children is commonly encountered by the family physician. Multiple causes exist, but with a thorough history, a physical examination and limited laboratory evaluation a specific diagnosis can usually be established. The use of the mean corpuscular volume to classify the anemia as microcytic, normocytic or macrocytic is a standard diagnostic approach. The most common form of microcytic anemia is iron deficiency caused by reduced dietary intake. It is easily treatable with supplemental iron and early intervention may prevent later loss of cognitive function. Less common causes of microcytosis are thalassemia and lead poisoning. Normocytic anemia has many causes, making the diagnosis more difficult. The reticulocyte count will help narrow the differential diagnosis; however, additional testing may be necessary to rule out hemolysis, hemoglobinopathies, membrane defects and enzymopathies. Macrocytic anemia may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B12, hypothyroidism and liver disease. This form of anemia is uncommon in children.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporosis - Article

ABSTRACT: Osteoporosis affects approximately 8 million women and 2 million men in the United States. The associated fractures are a common and preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in up to 50 percent of older women. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry to screen all women 65 years and older and women 60 to 64 years of age who have increased fracture risk. Some organizations recommend considering screening in all men 70 years and older. For persons with osteoporosis diagnosed by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry or previous fragility fracture, effective first-line treatment consists of fall prevention, adequate intake of calcium (at least 1,200 mg per day) and vitamin D (at least 700 to 800 IU per day), and treatment with a bisphosphonate. Raloxifene, calcitonin, teriparatide, or hormone therapy maybe considered for certain subsets of patients.


Improving Communication With Older Patients: Tips From the Literature - Feature


Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly - Editorials


Gait and Balance Disorders in Older Adults - Article

ABSTRACT: Gait and balance disorders are common in older adults and are a major cause of falls in this population. They are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as reduced level of function. Common causes include arthritis and orthostatic hypotension; however, most gait and balance disorders involve multiple contributing factors. Most changes in gait are related to underlying medical conditions and should not be considered an inevitable consequence of aging. Physicians caring for older patients should ask at least annually about falls, and should ask about or examine for difficulties with gait and balance at least once. For older adults who report a fall, physicians should ask about difficulties with gait and balance, and should observe for any gait or balance dysfunctions. The Timed Up and Go test is a fast and reliable diagnostic tool. Persons who have difficulty or demonstrate unsteadiness performing the Timed Up and Go test require further assessment, usually with a physical therapist, to help elucidate gait impairments and related functional limitations. The most effective strategy for falls prevention involves a multifactorial evaluation followed by targeted interventions for identified contributing factors. Evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for gait and balance disorders is limited because of the lack of standardized outcome measures determining gait and balance abilities. However, effective options for patients with gait and balance disorders include exercise and physical therapy. (Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(1):61-68. Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Family Physicians.)


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