Primary Care of the Older Adult: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Primary Care of the Older Adult: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Primary Care of the Older Adult: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Primary Care of the Older Adult: A Multidisciplinary Approach


Multidisciplinary in its presentation, Primary Care for the Older Adult is written for professionals and examines the common conditions and problems faced by older people. The book covers clinical, social, ethical and legal aspects of such care.


The health care delivery system in the United States strives to provide two fundamental rights: the right to access to care and the right to quality in services delivered. The current United States health care delivery system is not perfect, but this fact should never seriously impede health care professionals in the continuous pursuit of providing optimal care to their elderly patients.

Older adults are an extremely diverse population in abilities, life experiences, social resources, and ethnicity. Widely held generalizations and stereotypical images of older adults threaten the primary care provider's ability to conduct appropriate interviews and objective assessments. It is the responsibility of each person working with older adults to introspectively review these negative views of older people and work diligently to view each person as unique.

All older people have multiple talents and virtues. The primary provider needs to always be aware of the strengths of an older person and not view him or her as a failing organ system. Many times family members, friends, or paid caregivers will be important informants regarding the daily life and condition of the older patient. It is wise to ask the older person's permission before questions are asked of these supportive people. Dignity is many times closely related to autonomy. To be treated with dignity and kindness is a treasured commodity, but it is also a human right, and it is the responsibility of the practitioner to ensure that the right is respected.

Theories of aging reflect the complexities of the process, but none are comprehensive. Theories that attempt to explain only the physiologic changes that occur during the aging process include genetic theories, cellular theories, and organ system theories (autoimmune). Other physiologic concepts of aging that are proposed are nutrient deprivation, lipofuscin, wear and tear theory, and cross-linking theory. Psychologic theories abound and include disengagement theory, activity theory, life course theory, and continuity theory. None of these theories or constructs can claim sufficient evidence to account for aging effects that are experienced by older people. The majority of theorists and practitioners agree that with advanced age come factors such as increased vulnerability, increased susceptibility to disease, decrease in vitality, and slowed response to and recovery from stress.

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