The Elder Patient

Arthur B. Sanders

Epidemiology Pathophysiology Specificjssues Altered, Mental „Status FunctionaLDecline Trauma Falls

Infections

Disposition Chapter References

Older patients represent a special population for emergency medicine. The approach that focuses on one chief complaint, and develops a differential diagnosis based on life-threatening and common diseases, may miss significant conditions in older persons. Older patients are more time consuming, more difficult to evaluate, and take more resources compared with younger adult patients. The complexity of their presentations and dispositions, as well as communication problems with the patients, their families, and primary care providers, all make the emergency department (ED) evaluation of elderly persons more difficult compared with younger adult patients.1 The physiology of aging results in altered disease presentations, altered pharmacodynamics, and decreased functional reserve, as well as social problems, which must be dealt with in the setting of a busy ED.

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