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What Are the Most Common Geriatric Problems?

Many geriatric patients suffer from heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.
Many geriatric people have mobility issues.
Geriatric patients often lose some mental and physical function as they age.
Research suggests that brain fitness reduces the risk of dementia in elderly people.
Parkinson's disease may cause elderly patients to feel socially isolated and depressed.
Unintended weight loss is a symptom of depression in the elderly.
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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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Some of the most common geriatric problems include declining mental and physical health. Specifically, issues like arthritis, heart disease, anxiety and depression tend to affect elderly people to a greater degree than they do other people. Several geriatric problems can be corrected or cured by medical and mental health professionals while progressive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cannot be cured.

Doctors specializing in geriatric medicine regularly treat a variety of health issues that affect older adults. Some doctors also help patients avoid certain geriatric health problems, such as stroke and organ failure, by helping patients make lifestyle changes, which include exercise, a healthy diet and eliminating bad habits like smoking and alcohol abuse. Without attention and treatment, common geriatric problems like diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension can become life-threatening for geriatric patients.

Certain physical transformations are a natural part of the human aging process. Some of these changes include a decline in normal vision, changes in height and changes in weight. A few of these can become quite frustrating, but are not considered to be a serious health threat to seniors.

Common geriatric problems such as those affecting a person’s balance, mobility and speech can cause depression and anxiety. Other geriatric problems, such as a loss of taste, hearing and smell can be potentially dangerous, particularly for older adults who live alone. Declines in these important senses often leave older adults vulnerable to accidents and other injuries.

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Individuals specializing in geriatric mental health have also discovered that depression is a major issue among elderly populations. While many people assume that persistent sadness, pessimism and a loss of interest in normal activities is a normal part of aging, research has revealed that these symptoms are more likely due to depression. Studies conducted on geriatric health care emphasize the need for mental health treatment when aging adults begin to show symptoms of depression, which also include unintended weight loss, a decline in grooming habits and an inability to experience joy or pleasure.

Other geriatric problems, such as hormonal changes, sleep disorders, skin changes and nutritional deficiencies, may require medical intervention and many are addressed by changes in diet and exercise. More serious problems, such as prostate cancer, liver failure, kidney failure and heart disease, may even require surgical treatment. Mild geriatric problems such as dry mouth, vision problems and sexual dysfunctions are often treatable with medication and are not considered to be life-threatening.

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SauteePan
Post 5

Orangey03- My father was diagnosed with dementia when he was 80. We started to notice that he would repeat things without realizing it and would ask questions about things that we just had discussed. There were times that he did not even remember my children’s names.

Unfortunately this disorder does rob the elderly person of memories, and many geriatric patients like my father also develop additional symptoms because of their dementia. My father’s moods were very inconsistent and at times he became combative. He was also later diagnosed with psychosis and refused to listen to the nurses until we finally had to talk to him because he was going to get kicked out of the assisted living facility.

I think that aside from the dementia, a lot of geriatric issues involve depression as well. I know that my dad was a little depressed because he saw people with declining health all around him. Many had limited mobility and I imagine that he wondered if he was next. I don’t think that it is easy to deal with all of these limitations that you are sometimes faced with when you get older.

orangey03
Post 4

Geriatric hearing loss can be hard on the family of the elderly person as well as on the person himself. When my grandfather started losing his hearing, it became difficult for us to have the relationship we once had.

I always told him about what was going on in my life. He would tell me stories about when he was my age, and I enjoyed hearing them. I often learned from them.

However, when he could no longer fully understand what I was saying, his responses to me didn’t make any sense. I got so frustrated that I didn’t want to talk to him anymore, but my mother said that this would kill him, since we were so close. So, I just listened to what he had to say, even if it was totally unrelated to what I had mentioned.

It scared me, because it made me think he was losing his mind. I had heard of dementia, and I feared it was this instead of simple hearing loss.

lighth0se33
Post 3

My geriatric dog had problems in her old age. She lived for fifteen years, and the last two of those years were spent in a declining state of health.

She developed cataracts, and though she could still see, her vision was compromised. She had trouble recognizing me until I was right upon her. She was easily startled, because her hearing was going away as well. If I rounded a corner, she usually jumped with surprise.

She started having seizures whenever she would get excited. If she ran or played very much, she would fall over and start kicking her legs and howling. The first time it happened, I though she was dying, but she got up like nothing had happened.

We took her to the vet after a perpetual seizure. She could not stop. The vet said she had a brain tumor, and we had to have her put to sleep. She will always be my special dog in my heart, because we grew up together.

wavy58
Post 2

I have a friend whose elderly mother used to be a dancer. Now, she has to walk with a cane, and for long distances, she must use a wheelchair. It has been really hard on her, because she was used to being active and graceful all her life.

During the first two years after her disability set in, she was angry at everything and everyone. Now, she has accepted her situation, but she has lost her joy. She says all she has to look forward to are new episodes of her favorite TV shows, new issues of magazines, and life after death.

cloudel
Post 1

I understand why older people would lose their ability to feel joy. A lot of the happiness felt by young people exists because they have hope for a better future. Elderly people are at the end of their lives, and their futures in this world will soon cease.

They can only look back at what has been and not wonder what will be, at least in this life. If they have a belief in the afterlife, then they may gain hope from that. Otherwise, they could get severely depressed.

I often see the faces of old people while out shopping, and their smiles are gone. They appear mad, and I’m starting to understand why as I age. I catch myself becoming disillusioned with life, and I can only imagine what they must be going through near the end of theirs. They are probably severely disappointed because it didn’t live up to their dreams.

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