Aging: Extended care
The Problems Associated with Aging (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
The process of aging is inevitable. In the earlier stages of life, aging involves the acquisition and development of new skills and abilities, facilitated by the guidance and assistance of others. Later, the middle stages involve the challenges of maintaining and applying those skills and abilities in a manner that is primarily self-sufficient. Finally, in the end stages of life, aging involves the deterioration and loss of skills and abilities, with adequate functioning again being somewhat dependent on the assistance of others.
For many individuals, the final stages are brief, allowing them to live independently right up to their time of death. Thus, many experience little loss of their abilities to function independently. Others, however, endure more extended stages of later life and require greater care. For these individuals, losses in physical, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning frequently result in a need for specialized care. Such care involves whatever is necessary so that these individuals may live as comfortably, productively, and independently as possible.
The conditions leading to a need for long-term care are as varied as the elderly themselves are. Special needs for elders requiring extended care often include the management of physical, health, emotional, and cognitive problems. Physical problems dictating lifestyle adjustments include decreased speed, dexterity, and strength,...
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Options for Long-Term Care (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Extended care for the aged requires an interdisciplinary effort that usually involves a team of physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other rehabilitative specialists. Depending on the nature of the problems requiring care and management, any of these professionals may take part in the care process. Additionally, the involvement of concerned individuals who are close to the elder needing care is critical. Family members (including the spouse, children, and extended family) and close friends are invaluable sources of information and of emotional and instrumental support. Their ability to assist an elder with instrumental tasks such as cooking, housecleaning, shopping, and money and medication management is crucial to the successful implementation of a long-term care plan.
In all cases, long-term care for the aged involves the design of a comprehensive plan to address the multifaceted needs of the elder. Just as younger persons have psychological, social, intellectual, and physical needs, so do elders. As such, thorough assessment of an elder’s abilities, goals, expectations, and functioning in each of these areas is required. A mental status exam and a thorough physical exam are usually the primary methods of evaluation. Once needs are identified, a plan can then be designed by the team of health care professionals, family and friends assisting with care, and, whenever possible, the elder. In...
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Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Advances in modern medicine are continually extending the human life span. Cures for dread diseases, improved management of chronic health problems, and new technologies to replace diseased organs are facilitating this evolution. For many, these advances translate into greater longevity, the maintenance of a high quality of life, and fewer obstacles related to ageism. For others, however, the trade-off for longevity is some loss of independence and a need for extended care and management. Thus, the medical field is also affected by the trade-off of extending life, while experiencing an increasing need to improve strategies for long-term care for those who are able to live longer and longer despite health conditions.
As a result of this evolution, long-term care for the aged presents special challenges to the medical field. Over time, medicine has been a field specializing in the understanding of particular organ systems and the treatment of related diseases. While an understanding of how each system affects the functioning of the whole body is necessary, health care providers must struggle to understand the complexities in the case management required for high-quality long-term care for the aged. Care must be interdisciplinary, addressing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and family needs of the aged individual. Failure to address any of these areas may ultimately sabotage the successful long-term management...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: Author, 2000. This manual provides detailed descriptions of the behavior symptoms used to diagnose psychiatric disorders, such as organic brain syndromes and affective disorders. Written by mental health professionals, this manual covers issues related to psychiatry, psychology, and social work.
Cassel, Christine K., ed. Geriatric Medicine. 4th ed. New York: Springer, 2003. Examines topics such as changing contexts of care in geriatric medicine, clinical approaches to the geriatric patient, palliative and medical care, and organ system diseases and disorders.
Ham, Richard, et al., eds. Primary Care Geriatrics: A Case-Based Approach. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier, 2007. Divided into three parts: a discussion of the principles of geriatric primary care and the characteristics of older persons, an exploration of case-based approaches to major geriatric syndromes, and a presentation of common conditions and situations.
Katz, Paul R., Robert L. Kane, and Mathy D. Mezey. Advances in Long-Term Care. Vol. 1. New York: Springer, 1991. One volume in an ongoing series covering issues related to the long-term care of elders by caregivers, both professional and nonprofessional. Written by medical, psychiatric, and nursing professionals.
(The entire section is 344 words.)