Old age is not complex to navigate only because of the complex physiological changes. It is so also because, by the time a person reaches the golden age, they have etched out a complex medical history complete with co-morbidities that make the diagnosis of their current condition extremely challenging. Some of the common physiological changes that one can expect due to ageing are:
- A decline in the ability of all five senses
- Muscle mass decreases along with bone density and ligament elasticity
- Atherosclerosis is inevitably present; in any amount
- Increased risk of fatal and chronic conditions like heart or kidney diseases
- Some impairment of cognitive function
Now, this clinical picture can only be comprehended by an experienced professional who is presented with a huge diagnostic challenge. In this article, we will look at some of the major diagnostic challenges for seniors and see how doctors overcome them.
- First Challenge: Polypharmacy
Polypharmacy is defined as taking too many medications which are either inappropriate or in bad combinations or medications used to treat the side effects of other medications. As pointed out earlier, this happens because of having multiple conditions together. According to a statistic, an average person in America over the age of 65 takes 6-8 medications, and many of them may be over the counter medicines. Now the complication that can arise out of polypharmacy is adverse drug reactions, which is not so uncommon as you may think. In fact, over 700 thousand people are rushed to the emergency medical services for adverse reactions and a certain fraction of them require further medical treatment and even hospitalization after the emergency services. Given the seniors take 6-8 medications they are more likely to be the victims of adverse drug reactions and more likely to be hospitalized after such an event.
An experienced practitioner in this case inquires about the medication history of the senior patient and is vigilant of any adverse reaction that may occur due to the same.
- Second Challenge: Cognitive issues such as Dementia, Delirium,aging and Depression
A person suffering from symptoms of delirium has difficulty in thinking straight and being present and mindful of his surrounding. Such a patient may present a serious challenge to the doctor caring for them and diagnosing their condition. Oftentimes the doctor is completely unaware of the patient’s whereabouts and the patient himself cannot present a complete picture of what might have changed to cause such an acute state of confusion. In this scenario, doctors consult other doctors who are treating certain other conditions of the elderly patient to investigate the side effects of any drug or treatment regimen. Dementia which is the gradual decline of memory and intellectual impairment may further interfere with accurate accounts of the condition and pose a threat to the diagnosis. Similar is the case with depression which is a mood disorder and possibly the deadliest of all the three. Therefore, in all three cases health professionals take substantial care in order to carefully assess the patient’s health using a variety of tools for Primary Care On-Site diagnostic testing when it comes to seniors at their Miami location.
- Third Challenge: Increased risk of heart diseases
Heart disease is the top killer of people worldwide including both men and women. Heart attacks in men are usually this acute pain in the chest and left arm pain and in women it is usually just an uneasy feeling or a vague pain. In fact, due to this comparatively little discomfort twice as many women died due to heart attack due to lack of awareness of having one. This presents a substantial challenge in diagnosing a medical condition which exists outside of the heart condition. In this case diagnostic imaging and perusal of medical history plays an important role in correct diagnosis.
Even though challenges are immense for diagnosing seniors suffering from health conditions due to complexities of old age and unique medical histories, doctors employ a variety of tools for Primary Care On-Site diagnostic testing for seniors as well as other methods such as rigorous interviews with their doctors and pharmacist to arrive at a definitive conclusion. As patients we must be equally conscious of our medical histories and should document them in as much detail as we can.