The Chronically Disabled Elderly in Society

By Merna J. Alpert | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Cognitive Disability

Cognitive impairment in the elderly is misdiagnosed more frequently than most other diseases of older people because symptoms are similar to and sometimes are exacerbated by those of other diseases. Under such circumstances the dementia is reversible when the disease is treated. Currently, there is no absolute way to estimate how many older people are affected by cognitive disorders. Cumulative inferential data suggest that 10 to 25 percent of all people over age sixty-five with cognitive impairment have unrecognized treatable diseases. There is general agreement in the literature with these findings ( Beek et al., 1982: 235; Besdine 1982: 98, 112; Black & Paddison 1984: 42; Pedigo 1984: 139, 150-151; Glassman 1980: 288).

Emotional and psychiatric difficulties, especially if not treated correctly prior to old age, continue into the later years. Many difficulties in later life may have roots in one's early development, but they may remain dormant or latent until there are failing societal supports such as death of family members, lack of employment, or deteriorating physical abilities or senses. In old age emotional and psychiatric conditions rarely occur separately from physical problems and often may be difficult to isolate. Even today many physicians tend to overmedicate older people without having a full diagnostic workup, a full psychosocial history, a full medical history, or a full understanding of the effects and side effects of a "normal adult dosage" on older people, thus causing iatrogenic disorders ( Wolfe

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The Chronically Disabled Elderly in Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Aging ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 Cognitive Disability 9
  • Chapter 3 Hearing Disability 51
  • Chapter 4 - Motor Disability 87
  • Chapter 5 Implications 115
  • Bibliography 127
  • Index 137
  • About the Author 143
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