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Symposium: Care of the elderly

Frailty predicts adverse outcomes in older people with diabetes

23 Jan 2017Registered users

In older people living with diabetes, geriatric syndromes, which indicate frailty, are emerging as a third category of complications in addition to the traditional microvascular and macrovascular sequelae. Frailty is defined by the presence of three or more phenotypes (weight loss, weakness, decreased physical activity, exhaustion and slow gait speed). Patients may progress from a non-frail to pre-frail or frail state. With timely intervention, there is a greater chance for an individual to recover from pre-frail to non-frail than to deteriorate into frailty.

Depression is linked to dementia in older adults

23 Jan 2017Registered users

Depression and dementia are both common conditions in older people, and they frequently occur together. Rather than a risk factor, depression with onset in later life is more likely to be either prodromal to dementia or a condition that unmasks pre-existing cognitive impairment by compromising cognitive reserve. The distinction between depression and early dementia may be particularly difficult. Detailed histories obtained from patients and their relatives as well as longitudinal follow-up are important. 

Controlling joint pain in older people

25 Jan 2016Paid-up subscribers

The prevalence of chronic pain in older people in the community ranges from 25 to 76% and for those in residential care, it is even higher at 83 to 93%. The most common sites affected are the back, hip, or knee, and other joints. There is increased reporting of pain in women (79%) compared with men (53%). Common conditions include osteoarthritis and, to a lesser extent, the inflammatory arthropathies such as rheumatoid arthritis. The differential diagnosis includes non-articular pain such as vascular limb pain and nocturnal cramp, some neuropathic pain conditions (such as compressive neuropathies and postherpetic neuralgia), soft tissue disorders such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndromes. 

Anxiety in older adults often goes undiagnosed

25 Jan 2016

Anxiety disorder in the elderly is twice as common as dementia and four to six times more common than major depression. Anxiety is associated with poorer quality of life, significant distress and contributes to the onset of disability. Mortality risks are also increased, through physical causes, especially cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Diagnosing anxiety disorders in older adults remains a challenge because of the significant overlap in symptoms between physical disorders and depression.

 

 

Establishing the cause of memory loss in older people

22 Jan 2015Registered users

Common causes of memory loss in older people are mild cognitive impairment, the various types of dementia, and psychiatric illness, mainly depression. Around 10% of patients with mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia each year. NICE guidance suggests examination of: attention, concentration, short- and long-term memory, praxis, language and executive function.

Diagnosis and management of postherpetic neuralgia

22 Jan 2015Registered users

Risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) include: increasing age; a prodrome of pain before rash onset; the degree of spread of the rash, particularly if it extends beyond a single dermatome; and severity of pain during the acute attack. Forty per cent of patients over 50 and 75% of those over 75 develop PHN following resolution of the rash. Patients with severe pain or those whose condition is affecting their daily activities and function should be referred to a specialist in pain management.

Can exercise prevent cognitive decline?

22 Jan 2014Registered users

As the tolerability of pharmacological agents decreases with age, exercise may be particularly helpful as a possible treatment or stabiliser of mood and cognitive function in older age. The effects of exercise on reducing depressive symptoms are not dissimilar to the effects of antidepressant drugs and cognitive behaviour therapy. Exercise has a moderate effect on the ability of people with dementia to perform activities of daily living and may improve cognitive function. Midlife exercise may also have an impact on later cognitive function.

Early recognition improves prognosis in elderly onset RA

22 Jan 2014Registered users

Age at onset is particularly relevant in RA as the presentation may differ in elderly onset RA (EORA) compared with young onset RA (YORA). Patients with EORA frequently report a more acute presentation, especially if positive for rheumatoid factor (RF). Fever, fatigue and weight loss appear to be more common in EORA. Although small joints are most frequently involved in the RA population overall, there is common involvement of large joints in EORA and these proximal symptoms may mimic polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). [With external links to the evidence base]

Early diagnosis beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease

24 Jan 2013Paid-up subscribers

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease requires clinical and pathological evidence. In clinical practice, GPs should consider a diagnosis of dementia when a patient presents with functional impairment (e.g. needing a greater level of help with activities of daily living, struggling to manage own finances and bills) in addition to at least two changes in cognitive function e.g. short-term memory, language, reasoning, spatial orientation, or personality change. The patient, friends, family or professional carers should have noticed these changes for at least six months. Early diagnosis enables early, planned intervention, reduces crisis situations, delays planned admission to care homes (and helps prevent unplanned admissions).

Tailor treatment in the older patient with type 2 diabetes

24 Jan 2013Paid-up subscribers

In older people, diabetes is a disabling disease due to the associated vascular complications, multiple comorbidities and the increased prevalence of geriatric syndromes. Because of the complexity of diabetes in old age a comprehensive assessment is important at initial diagnosis, with the aim of preventing loss of autonomy and preserving independence. Cognitive and physical dysfunction are common in older people with diabetes which may affect health outcomes and quality of life. Individual therapeutic targets should take into consideration functional status, life expectancy and patient preferences.

 

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Skin conditions affecting the elderly

21 Mar 2013Registered users

  • Actinic keratoses
  • Asteatotic eczema
  • Bowen’s disease
  • Seborrhoeic keratoses
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Varicose eczema

Skin conditions in the elderly

01 Jun 2009Registered users

  • Entropion
  • Seborrhoeic warts
  • Dupuytren's contracture
  • Erythema ab igne
  • Hallux valgus
  • Chondrodermatitis nodularis chronica helicis
 

Editorials

Statins underused for primary prevention in older patients

19 Sep 2012Paid-up subscribers

'A treatment-risk paradox where patients become less likely to receive appropriate treatment with advancing age has been observed in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is particularly apparent for cholesterol-lowering treatment with one study showing the likelihood of statin treatment was 6% lower with each year increase in age. However, it is not clear if such a paradox exists in primary prevention and a recent UK study published in the BMJ addresses this issue...'

GPs’ vital role in end of life care

20 Jun 2012Paid-up subscribers

The aims of palliative care are to provide the best quality of life for patients and their families, and to facilitate a good death. The NICE quality standard on end of life care, published in November 2011, consists of 16 quality statements which inform patients of the standard of care which they should expect and define aspirational standards for clinical governance. If patients are to die well, they need to be prepared for death, to achieve a sense of control, to be free of pain, to be respected as an individual, and to spend meaningful time with close family and friends in familiar surroundings.