research agenda has been developed by the Society of Hospital Medicine that
could help researchers address gaps in the acute care of hospitalized elderly
An older patient has to
be treated differently by health care professionals as compared to younger individuals. This is due to a number of reasons which include:
health conditions are more common in older individuals. These include heart
diseases, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression...the
list is endless. Though these diseases are slowly advancing their claws towards
the younger population, they are still more common in the elderly.
diseases like certain types of cancer occur exclusively in the elderly
population. These have to be treated carefully, making sure that the treatment
does not have a detrimental effect on the health of the patient. Conditions
like cataract often require surgical treatment.
individuals often have to be treated with multiple medications to address their
concomitant medical problems. These medications may interfere with each other
resulting in a decreased or increased effect.
age, the liver and kidney function may be affected, thereby slowing down the
disposal of medications from the body. Thus, it may be necessary to reduce the
dosage of a medication in an older individual.
individuals often suffer from dementia; it is difficult to expect them to treat
themselves adequately. In addition, they may also suffer from physical
disabilities like problems with vision and reduced mobility. Thus, they often
require a full time caregiver.
Geriatric medicine is a
branch of medicine that specifically deals with health problems of older
adults. Unfortunately, there are very few health personnel trained to
specifically treat elderly individuals.
Older adults frequently
suffer from complications and have to be hospitalized. The Society of Hospital
Medicine has developed a research agenda that could improve the treatment of
the elderly population who are hospitalized. The agenda covers several
unanswered questions that concern the hospitalization of the elderly from the
broad groups of advanced care planning, care transitions, delirium
, dementia, depression, medications and
models of care, physical function, surgery, and training. The agenda was
formulated based on inputs from patients, family caregivers, patient advocates,
and providers of care.
The research agenda can be used by researchers
to improve geriatric care during hospitalization, to close the current
knowledge gaps in their treatment requirements and to thereby improve the
quality of care in the elderly.