Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Throwing Granny Away

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Throwing Granny Away

Article excerpt

Efforts to promote health and prevent disease have long been aimed at the young, but the National Academy of Sciences is urging greater preventive care for people fifty years of age and older. The NAS issued a report, written by Dr. Robert L. Berg and Joseph S. Cassells, identifying thirteen risk factors that affect large numbers of elderly people and for which prevention is possible.

Misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs was seen as a major problem, often leading to life-threatening complications. Dosages for the elderly are often inappropriately prescribed by extrapolating from studies on younger people. Other areas of prevention include: infections, prevented by immunization against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia; falls, prevented by energy-absorbing surfaces and research on fractures; depression, often relieved by new drugs that are reaching only a fraction of elderly patients in need of them; cancer, effectively prevented in this age group by the same screening used for younger people.

While the National Academy of Sciences proclaimed that "many older individuals lead satisfying lives and maintain their health well beyond society's expectations," the American College of Emergency Physicians was reporting that between 100,000 and 200,000 geriatric patients are abandoned nationwide in emergency rooms each year. …

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