The physical changes of aging are universal, but the pace at which they occur is highly individual, and are decidedly influenced by environment and lifestyle dynamics. Some people look and feel old at 60 or earlier, while others remain youthful in health, appearance, and outlook at 70 and beyond. The challenge for health professionals is to distinguish between normal age-related changes and symptoms of a disease or disorder that requires preventive or therapeutic action. For example, is forgetfulness in a particular patient just part of growing older, a sign of depression or stress, or the beginning of dementia?
Most health professionals who care for older adults are not geriatricians or geriatric nurse specialists but primary care providers. Some may never have had a formal course in geriatrics. In many cases, the care provider is much younger than the patient and may be from a different racial or ethnic background.
A large percentage of today's aging population continues to live independently despite a variety of chronic health problems. Both age and disease related changes that affect the elderly's image of themselves; societal values and life experiences also play a role.
Health maintenance is an ongoing challenge for these people, their families and health care providers. Individuals may have different views regarding ageing and elderly, which reflect in the attitudes of people including aging person and of health care providers.
Careful assessment of the aging person's perception of his or her health, health practices, and knowledge of safety factors affecting their own health is an important part of primary care delivery. Early detection of problems and early intervention can prevent more serious complications and enable older adults to maintain the highest possible level of wellness and function.
Aging is both universal and individual
To help improve patient care, safety, satisfaction, and outcomes, it is important to engage patients and families in their healthcare. Patients who are well informed of their medical condition are more likely to comply with their provider’s recommended regimen. To this end, GAP clients receive a complimentary subscription to our NursePros newsletter. The newsletter contains useful and entertaining tips that promote optimal health and safety.
August 28, 2013 - For uninsured Americans, enrollment for health coverage, as part of the affordable care act, begins Oct. 1 and runs for six months. Some are now wondering if people on Medicare will be affected by the increase in insured.