Geriatric Medicine is a specialty of medicine concerned with physical, mental, functional and social conditions in acute, chronic, rehabilitative, preventive and end of life care in older patients. This group of patients is considered to have a high degree of frailty and active multiple pathology requiring a holistic approach. Diseases may present differently in old age, are often very difficult to diagnose, the response to treatment is often delayed and there is frequently a need for social support.
Geriatric Medicine therefore exceeds organ orientated medicine offering additional therapy in a multidisciplinary team setting, the main aim of which is to optimize the functional status of the older person and improve the quality of life and autonomy.
Geriatric Medicine is not specifically age defined but will deal with the typical morbidity found in older patients. Most patients will be over 65 years of age but the problems best dealt with by the specialty of Geriatric Medicine become much more common in the 80+ age group.
The department of Geriatric services at G Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital was started in 2010. The department is one of few centers in India where the comprehensive geriatric assessment is done through a multi-disciplinary team. Starting out with regular Out-patient clinic, the department has extended the services to include home visits, outreach clinics, telemedicine, health screening programs and many more.
It is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary diagnostic instrument designed to collect data on the medical, psychosocial and functional capabilities and limitations of elderly patients. Various geriatric practitioners use the information generated to develop treatment and long-term follow-up plans, arrange for primary care and rehabilitative services, organize and facilitate the intricate process of case management, determine long-term care requirements and optimal placement, and make the best use of health care resources.
The geriatric assessment differs from a standard medical evaluation in three general ways:
Whereas the standard medical evaluation works reasonably well in most other populations, it tends to miss some of the most prevalent problems faced by the elder patient. These challenges, often referred to as the "Five I's of Geriatrics", include intellectual impairment, immobility, instability, incontinence and iatrogenic disorders. The geriatric assessment effectively addresses these and many other areas of geriatric care that are crucial to the successful treatment and prevention of disease and disability in older people.
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