It is well known that the older populations are increasing in numbers and in health care needs. They are living longer with possible increased number of years with a disabling health condition which jeopardizes quality of life and ability to remain independent (Lopez, A.D., Mathers, C.D., Ezzati, M., Jamison, D.T., & Murray, C.J.L. (Eds.) (2006). Global Burden of Disease and Risk Factors.
Although older adults serve as essential resources to their communities, they face a great risk of marginalization. Older adults often experience both social devaluation and poverty upon leaving the labor market, market effects of income and social insecurity regardless of employment history, contribute to the risk of social isolation, which in turns increases other risks such as elder abuse, depression and suicide.
The purpose of this series is to provide the health provider and students in health professions with an in-depth overview of the potential risks associated with reduced function with age including a) specific health conditions -osteoporosis, related to falls and loss of mobility, incontinence and colostomy ; b) the risks associated with social isolation, which increase with age due to loss of friends and family members, compounded by loss of function, c) issues related to aging in place and how to access when to explore alternative living arrangements and possible relocation; d) how to deal with changes in lifestyle, such as no longer being able to drive, and increasing needs to manage disruptive behavior, and finally e) the decision making required for invasive treatments and procedures which can negatively impact function, especially among frail elderly.
This series will explore the promotion of functional adaptations among the elderly who may benefit from both a proactive approach that targets elders with few limitations and a consideration of financial factors in addition to health status. These topics have been explored in a number of ways, such as examining living modifications to reduce the risk of functional loss, interventions related to exercise, diet and supplements to promote independence with age (Mathieson, et al, 2010). With the current emphasis on patient-centered outcomes and need to explore what is not just best for the treatment of disease, but what is best for the older patient and their quality of life, this series will fill needed gaps in assessment of all factors related to the life of the individual older patient and the process of decision-making in determining care options or potential prevention of future functional loss.
This series will assist health providers by:
- Increasing quality of health care provided to older patients based on improved knowledge of Geriatric assessment required for relocation and treatment decisions;
- Increasing awareness and knowledge in addressing health conditions common to older adults which may increase the risk of function loss and autonomy among older patients;
- Increasing knowledge and awareness of available community resources to help promote quality of life and reduce negative impact of function loss among older adults;
- Potential long term improved health outcomes in maintaining function for older patients based on improved decision-making skills, knowledge and awareness of health issues which promote quality of life among older patients.