Geriatric Medicine “is that branch of general medicine concerned with the clinical, preventive, remedial and social aspects of illness in older people. Their high morbidity rates, different patterns of disease presentation, slower response to treatment and requirements for social support call for special medical skills”. According to British Geriatric Society, the purpose is to restore an ill and disabled person to a level of maximum ability and whenever possible return the person to an independent life at home.
Rehabilitative Medicine typically involves multi‐disciplinary team to evaluate and identify problems and establish therapeutic goals to plan and provide intervention. Care must be taken during diagnosis and prescription as multiple co‐existent conditions and factors are involved like role of cognitive impairment, need for more functional support, shifting goals and overlay of psycho‐social factors. Successful rehabilitation requires interaction of cognitive, sensory & motor processes along with external environmental factors.
Systematic identification of potential range of problems is the first and most important step in rehabilitation process. The problems need to be identified and prioritized in order to plan and implement appropriate management strategies & measure the outcomes. It is a collaborative process involving patient and family which involve identifying specific participation restrictions and analyzing relevant functional activities needed to overcome restrictions.
Types of Geriatric Problems
The types of problems faced in geriatric treatment may be grouped into three different sections.
One category is the problems that happen because the patient simply does not use their limbs or does not exercise. These problems can be addressed by reconditioning through range-of-motion exercises and other exercises.
Another category geriatric rehabilitation deals with is cardiovascular disease, like heart disease and stroke. The physiotherapy professional has an array of tools at their disposal to work with these conditions. Exercise, electrical stimulation, and more can be used.
The third category is skeletal problems. Geriatric rehabilitation helps people who have these disorders, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. These problems require special attention as osteoporosis makes patients frailer, and osteoarthritis is very painful.
It is very important to keep the patient motivated in order to build the Rehabilitation Potential or patient’s ability to participate in a structured rehabilitation program with a resultant improvement in functional status and quality of life in spite of co‐existent co‐morbidities. Providing comfort and dignity is paramount in treatment. It is essential to consider patient’s desires first and individualize plans to encompass co‐morbidities. The practitioner must consider functional presentation of disease and minimize drugs and equipment. The entire rehabilitation process must be designed to help elderly patients regain stamina, strength and physical independence.