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Geriatric health conditions have major effect on half of all seniors

ANN ARBOR, Mich. A broad study of adults ages 65 and older has found that half of them have one or more conditions that can affect their ability to participate in activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing on their own.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System analyzed the responses of more than 11,000 participants in the national Health and Retirement Study. They found that 50 percent of older adults had a moderate to severe form of at least one of the following conditions: cognitive impairment, falls, incontinence, low body mass index, dizziness, vision impairment or hearing impairment.

The researchers also studied whether the respondents had difficulty with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting or transferring) and needed assistance to complete the tasks. They found that people with geriatric conditions had about the same level of dependency when performing activities of daily living as older patients with chronic diseases, including heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal conditions, stroke and psychiatric problems.

The study which appears in the Aug. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine fills a major gap in research about older patients. Although conditions such as incontinence and falls have been studied extensively, the total impact of geriatric conditions on health and disability in the older adult population has not been investigated, notes lead author Christine Cigolle, M.D., MPH, lecturer in the U-M Health System Department of Family Medicine and a physician in the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare Systems Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC).

The focus in medicine has long been on diseases, and how to diagnose and treat them. But that focus often isnt helpful in regard to older adults; they tend to have one or more of these geriatric conditions, which are not considered diseases and can be mi
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Contact: Katie Gazella
kgazella@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
7-Aug-2007


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