Changes in the Elderly

As we age our ability to respond to changes in our environment decreases. For example, we do not always respond to infections with fever, instead we may present with confusion or decreased mental ability. So it is sometimes difficult to know what is normal aging and what is a sign of a modifiable disease.

Changes that occur rapidly should be evaluated because it is a sign that something is amiss. It could be infection, electrolyte imbalance, hormone issues such as diabetes or even something like a stroke.

Changes that occur slowly should also be evaluated. Mental changes can occur with social isolation and depression. These can be reversible if caught early enough. Vitamin D deficiency may increase falling in the elderly.

Multiple medications can give rise to side effects including dizziness and falling, mental changes, muscle weakness, just to name a few.

Geriatrics is the specialty of medicine that deals especially with care of the elderly. Not only do they treat symptoms but also focus on prevention. They consider the whole person and the goals of each person for their life.