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Sep 19

Rapid Advances in Geriatric Medicine

An Increasingly Complex Endeavor

Geriatrics is a massively more complex endeavor today than it was even 10 years ago. Never mind the technological advances that have occurred in terms of hip replacement devices and cochlear implants that can be surgically implanted into the side of the skull of an aging person’s weakening hearing, healthcare in the years past 70 are about more than quality of life: living past this age is about thriving.

Many believe this is an attitude and spirit that is for those of middle age on their way to their golden years. Many younger folks believe those in their golden years simply want to exist and then—shall we say—“expire.” But that’s just not the case.

Stronger Seniors

There are stronger, more vibrant and more physically active 70-, 80- and even 90-year olds today than there’s ever been, and it’s all thanks to various advances in senior health care and medicine.

Immunizations are making a big difference. Physicians are finding that immunizations just as important for immune systems of the elderly as they are for children. It turns out, our immune systems don’t cease learning after our 20th birthday.

  • Vaccines such as the inoculation for pneumococcal polysaccharide are especially important for the elderly, whose immune systems may be weak due to natural aging and wear and tear.
  • Remember that the influenza vaccine is administered once annually (in the U.S. from September through December).
  • The American Geriatrics Society vaccination schedule for people over the age of 65 calls the Td vaccine once, then a booster every 10 years.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Another field that’s paramount in the practice of geriatric medicine falls under this label of “mental health.” The rule of thumb is that, statistically, your chances of coming down with some kind of clinical psychiatric condition only increases with age. General dementia is a big, general clinical condition that most people are aware of, under which killers such as Alzheimer’s reside.

The approach today is to create a chemical (i.e. molecule) that can be administered in a—for lack of a better term—a carpet-bombing kind of way. A pill is manufactured; the patient ingests the pill, and the medicine basically bathes the nervous system and brain with this chemical.

Genetics and the Cost of Senior Health Care

But this approach to medicine will drastically change in the coming decade. Genetic solutions are the way forward. These solutions involve the engineering of DNA and then injecting this solution into the body so that its genetic instructions can impose a new course for the body to take.

Genetic therapies will have a huge impact on another grave concern within this realm of senior health care: cancer. In the past decade several clinical trials of genetic therapies and solutions that take aim at a variety of cancers, such as leukemia, thalassemia, kaposi sarcoma… just to name a few.

But all of these innovations, advances, and solutions don’t address the problem that many seniors will inevitably run into as they age further and further past 65: How are they going to pay for any of these treatments, medicines, etc.?

 

Author’s Bio: John Max a well known author has been writing articles on geriatric care. For more information visit the website SeniorCare.net

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