The elderly are prone to Geriatric syndromes – Expert

Dr. Lawrence Adebusoye, a Consultant Geriatrician at the Tony Anennih Geriatric Centre, University College Hospital  (UCH) Ibadan, says  adults who are aged 60 years and above are susceptible to geriatric syndromes.

Adebusoye  said  in Ibadan that  geriatricians use the  term “geriatric syndromes”  to highlight the unique features of  the common health conditions in the elderly.“ Adults aged 60 and older have one or two medical challenges like  diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis, heart disease  or high blood pressure.The syndromes are problems that usually have more than one cause and involve many parts of the body.

 Syndromes such as delirium, falls, incontinence and frailty  are highly prevalent, multifactorial and associated with substantial morbidity and poor outcomes.

Doctors who have advanced training in the care of older adults and other geriatric health care professionals play important roles in diagnosing and managing these syndromes, “he said.

The geriatrician, who  said  most common amongst the list of syndromes is sleep problem,  added that this  affects quality of life  and can  contribute to falls and other health problems.

According to him, sleep problems could  be diagnosed and treated by health care givers.

Adebusoye further said that delirium, an acute decline in retention and cognition is another common  life-threatening syndrome in older adults.“Delirium is and potentially preventable clinical syndrome among persons who are 65 years of age and older.Development of delirium often initiates a cascade of events culminating in the loss of independence, which is an increased risk  of morbidity and mortality and  increased health care costs.

Frailty is an age-associated  biological syndrome characterized\ by decreased biological reserves  due to dis regulation of several physiological systems.It puts an individual at risk when facing minor stress  and is associated with poor outcomes ( disability, death  and hospitalization).

The prevalence of frailty in people older than 65 years is high, ranging from seven  to 16.3percent. The prevalence increases with age  and is greater in women than in men,” he said.

Adebusoye also said that pressure injury is another serious syndrome of old age,  adding that it is a very delicate type of  syndrome.“A pressure injury is localized damage to the skin and/or underlying soft tissue usually over a bony prominence or related to a medical or other device. The injury can present as intact skin or an open ulcer and may be painful. The injury occurs as a result of intense and/or prolonged pressure or pressure in combination with shear.Pressure injuries are more common in persons who have impaired mobility and spend time in a wheelchair or in bed.  Additional risk factors  such as frailty or impaired nutrition  may also contribute,” he added.

The expert further disclosed that some medications could  increase the risk of geriatric syndromes through a variety of mechanisms, adding that that causes dizziness for instance could make the  patient fall therefore pharmacists of elderly people should take note of geriatric syndromes when given out medicines to them.