Patterns of Disease: The Challenge of Multiple Illnesses

  • Patrick W. Irvine


Much of the illness seen in elderly patients is predictable and may be preventable. Indeed, common patterns of disease recur often enough to provide clinicians with the opportunity to prevent major disabilities. Unfortunately, there is a common feeling that the care of elderly persons is more frustrating than it is rewarding. Many professionals, when overwhelmed by seemingly hopeless circumstances, fail to appreciate how small interventions can make a major impact on the quality of life. Sometimes, elderly patients are seen with one disorder after another as part of an inexorable downhill course, reinforcing beliefs that little can be accomplished for these patients.. Most major illnesses, however, do not occur by accident, but result from preexistent conditions that contribute to a greater risk of developing further disease. By minimizing or eliminating antecedent risk factors, clinicians can prevent subsequent disease. Therefore, contrary to prevailing attitudes, a major goal of geriatric medicine is the anticipation of disease, and then accordingly, the prevention of disease.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Elderly Person Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Geriatric Medicine Temporal Arteritis 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

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  • Patrick W. Irvine

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