Common Geriatric Conditions Overlooked
Study Shows Many Health Problems in Older Adults Are Often Ignored
Aug. 6, 2007 -- Half of U.S. adults over age 65 suffer from at least one
common age-related condition, according to a new study. But researchers say
these highly treatable geriatric health problems are often overlooked by health
Researchers surveyed more than 11,000 adults aged 65 or older -- from both
nursing homes and the community at large -- and found 50% had one or more
geriatric health conditions, such as loss of mental sharpness, falls,
incontinence, dizziness, and vision or hearing problems.
Some of these conditions were as prevalent as common chronic diseases like
heart disease and diabetes. But researchers say geriatric health issues may
often be overlooked in the care of older adults.
"Geriatric conditions fall outside models that now govern much of health
care," write researcher Christine T. Cigolle, MD, MPH, of the University of
Michigan, and colleagues. "The disease management model is directed toward
individuals with a single disease that dominates their health care utilization;
this model is less able to address older adults whose health care use is
related to multiple diseases, conditions, and disabilities that affect one
The study also showed that common geriatric conditions were strongly
associated with disability and difficulty in performing normal activities of
daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom,
even after adjusting for other chronic diseases. People with at least one
geriatric condition were twice as likely to require assistance performing daily
activities and those with three or more geriatric conditions were more than six
times as likely to be dependent on assistance for activities of daily
Researchers say most older adults with common geriatric health conditions
live in the community rather than in nursing homes and are not under the care
of a geriatrician.
"An approach to their care that included the identification and
management of geriatric conditions is needed," write the authors.