What is the definition of elderly in healthcare?

Aging, an inevitable process, is commonly measured by chronological age and, by convention, a person aged 65 or older is referred to as an “old woman”. WHO works with Member States, United Nations agencies and diverse stakeholders from various sectors to promote healthy ageing in all countries. Healthy aging is defined as the development and maintenance of the functional capacity that enables well-being in old age. Functional capacity is determined by an individual's intrinsic capacity (i.e., e.g.Since the continuing perception of “aging” ranges from “awareness” to “evolution”, more and more attention is being paid to helping doctors prescribe to the “elderly”.

Any treatment recommendations provided by clinical guidelines that consider “elderly people” as a homogenous group of people may limit the clinical benefits of treatment. In a series of clinical studies on specific diseases, for example, atrial fibrillation, similar trends have been observed when it comes to variably defining the term “elderly”. Aging, an inevitable process, is usually measured by chronological age and, by convention, a person aged 65 or older is referred to as “old lady”. All 20 guidelines used the term “older people”, while some provided age-based (chronological) dosage recommendations that suggested a generalist or age-based approach in their representation of older people, which was rarely justified.

The guidelines were qualitatively reviewed and analyzed to identify any references or definitions of “older people”. However, the guidelines did include statements about specific recommendations, warnings, referral procedures, diagnostics and emergency care for “elderly” patients. None of the 20 guidelines deliberately emphasized the alteration of pharmacological pharmacology in older people to distinguish how the use of pharmacotherapy could differ in “elderly”. This variability in establishing a chronological “limit” age when defining “elderly people” is another problem that prevents a uniform description of “older people”.

Any underlying characterization of older people seems to be very generic, not based on evidence and potentially biased. From the qualitative analysis of these statements, five key issues emerged, which revealed how “elderly” patients were variably considered in clinical practice guidelines. This study highlights existing gaps in the understanding of “old age” and “older people”, which supports some possible age biases in the prescription of medications, and highlights the limited extent to which current clinical practice guidelines address this issue. While two guidelines defined people aged 65 and over as “older people”, one guide used 75 years as the limit for its description of “older people”.

The objective of this study was to explore how Australian clinical practice guidelines define the “elderly” patient, to what extent treatment recommendations specifically use these terms and how they take into account age-related parameters when using pharmacotherapy.

Steve Leinen
Steve Leinen

Typical bacon evangelist. Evil web advocate. Hipster-friendly thinker. Wannabe pop culture buff. Typical travel guru. Proud food specialist.

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