Chronic Disease
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Chronic Diseases in the elderly are numerous and varied but they do share specific characteristics:

(1) Chronic Diseases usually require the regular administration of a treatment or medication. As an individual ages their ability to manage the activities of daily living decreases as does their ability to take their own medication. Granny may need to take several pills a day to manage several chronic illnesses. Two aides may be helpful: the pills may be loaded in a compartmental pill box that has daily divisions and subdivisions. The pills can be pre-loaded by Granny or the care giver and then taken according to the daily date. Secondly the Pharmacist is able to blister package the pills and the pills can be extracted according to the correct date and time. These aides help to prevent double dosing or forgetting to take the medication.

(2) In Chronic Disease the state of the illness or the effectiveness of the treatment often needs to be measured. For Diabetics the glucometer is essential for monitoring blood sugar levels. For Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease and Asthma a flowmeter to measure maximum expiratory flow volume is very useful. Elderly people may not see well enough to read the instrument or their manual dexterity may be compromised by arthritis. There has to be a designated caregiver to perform these functions for them.

(3) The most insidious chronic illness is malnourishment. In the elderly it is known as the " tea and toast syndrome". It is rarely detected in a timely fashion and affects virtually every bodily system. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to a gradual but persistent deviation from National Guidelines for a balanced diet. In Nursing Homes dieticians may be responsible for maintaining good nutrition but for old folks living on their own they or their families have to plan to avoid the dangers of a deficient diet. The ideal arrangement is for the younger family members to make enough in their own meal preparation to include Granny and to deliver it to her. The logistics for preparing meals or arranging delivery of suitable meals is frequently overwhelming to the elderly. It is a challenge that should not be overlooked by their children.

 

 

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