Caring for Geriatric Patients in Canada

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As of 2014, nearly 16 percent (just over 6 million) of Canadians were made up of geriatric patients aged 65 or older. By 2030, that number is expected to rise by 7 percent to 9.5 million seniors, making them an expeditiously expanding part of Canada’s population. The average life expectancy of elderly patients is 84.2 (women) and 80 (men.) By 2036, the average life expectancy is anticipated to rise to 86.2 (women) and 82.9 (men) due to the fact that seniors are seemingly living healthier, longer lives than ever before.

While the Canadian government works to provide a number of different programs and initiatives for elderly patients and their families, much of the responsibility of care for geriatric patients falls on their caregivers (i.e. family members and friends) and general practitioners. Prior to joining Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, Dr. Ali Ghahary worked with largely geriatric communities in various parts of Canada – including the Louis Brier Home and Hospital in Vancouver. With Dr. Ghahary’s expertise brought forth to Brentwood Medical Clinic, Burnaby’s geriatric community is in great hands.

Unlike younger, healthier patients, seniors require a more comprehensive and extensive approach to their medical care. This includes frequent and/or prolonged visits with their physician, routine screening, medication adjustments, and specialist referrals in addition to dealing with their basic medical needs as well as home-care and other daily-living necessities. Common health problems found in seniors range from musculoskeletal problems such as osteoporosis (bone loss), osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joints), gout and fractures. Visual problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. Cardiovascular problems such as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and high blood pressure. Hormonal changes such as increased cholesterol and slower metabolism. Seniors are also at an increased risk of developing infections like shingles, pneumonia, or urinary tract infections, and other general complaints such as fatigue, decreased appetite, forgetfulness and weight loss.

To ensure optimal health, elderly patients should not only go for regular check-ups with their physician, but also ensure that they are getting enough sleep, include vitamin-rich diets that include calcium and Vitamin D to prevent bone disease, and limit salt intake in order to control blood pressure levels. Eating foods that are higher in antioxidants will also help lessen the risk of vision loss as a result of macular degeneration, and living an overall healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing heart disease by as much as 80%.