The fact that there are special problems in the care of the elderly in the community is ample justification for writing a separate volume on the subject. The knowledge that there are increasing numbers of older people in virtually every country in the world makes it all the more important that the family physician should have sympathy with and understanding of the problems of them, since they are lilcely to make up a significant part of his worlcload and, increasingly, will take up more of his time and energy. There is a progressive amount of disability with advancing years, and this is particularly true of those aged 75 years and over. Increasing age is associated with serious impairment of hearing and vision, senses which younger people take for granted. Old age sees the arrival of major diseases of middle age with much greater frequency, such as ischaemic heart and cerebrovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. There are other disorders that are virtually confined to the elderly, such as fractures of the femoral neck, Paget's disease and myeloma. We now know that the disintegration of the con ducting tissue of the heart is largely an age-related phenomenon. Ageing processes affect every major organ system in the body and the impairment of physiological perfor mance resulting from these affects the elderly individual's response to infections, disease and environmental changes in complex ways that are not seen in younger people.
Table of Contents1 Demographic and social factors.- 2 Disorders of the cardiovascular system (I) Myocardial and valvular disease; blood pressure.- 3 Disorders of the cardiovascular system (II) Disorders of cardiac rhythm and conduction; pacemakers.- 4 Disorders of the cardiovascular system (III) Diseases of the arteries.- 5 Strokes.- 6 Fits, faints and falls.- 7 Failing mobility (‘gone off his feet syndrome’).- 8 Incontinence.- 9 Memory, confusion and sleep.- 10 The use and misuse of drug treatment.- 11 Bone disease and fractures.- 12 Disorders of the blood.- 13 Endocrine diseases.