Which disease or ailment is often under diagnosed and undertreated in the aging population?

Expert Answers
pacorz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several maladies that are known to be under diagnosed in the elderly. One of the most commonly missed ailments is depression. Elderly people often become socially isolated through a variety of mechanisms ranging from poverty to decreased mobility to widowhood. Depression in the elderly can lead to cognitive impairment and may be misdiagnosed as early stage Alzheimer's disease. It can lead to a variety of physical illnesses and can exacerbate others because of loss of interest in eating, sleep disruption, and lack of exercise, all of which can be caused by depression. Because the symptoms are so nonspecific, elderly patients and their caregivers seldom suspect that depression is the problem, attributing their symptoms to "getting old".

Malnutrition is another problem that is often missed. Poor dental health, poverty, and lack of regular meals, often due to social isolation, can all contribute to this issue.

Asthma is another issue that is often misdiagnosed in the elderly. Again, difficulty breathing is often misattributed to the aging process itself. Also, asthma may be mistaken for or masked by cardiovascular problems.