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January 2013, Volume 43 Number 1 , p 1 - 3


  • Tricia Brown-O'Hara MSN, RN


GERIATRIC SYNDROMES are common clinical conditions that don't fit into specific disease categories but have substantial implications for functionality and life satisfaction in older adults. Besides leading to increased mortality and disability, decreased financial and personal resources, and longer hospitalizations, these conditions can substantially diminish quality of life.1According to a literature review, the five conditions most commonly considered geriatric syndromes are pressure ulcers, incontinence, falls, functional decline, and delirium. Malnutrition, eating and feeding problems, sleeping problems, dizziness and syncope, and self-neglect have also been classified as geriatric syndromes.2This article discusses geriatric syndromes and their impact. It describes how to assess older adults for these syndromes and directs nurses to appropriate resources.Geriatric syndromes will be an increasing concern for nurses because the population of older adults is growing exponentially. The number of those age 65 and older will more than double between 2000 and 2030, growing from 34.8 million to more than 70.3 million according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.1 The "old-old" adults-those age 85 and over-is the fastest growing group of all; their numbers will double between 1995 and 2030 and increase fivefold by 2050.1 About 82% of older adults have at least one chronic disease.1 These startling numbers will drive dramatic changes in healthcare and society.Older adults face many challenges, including behavioral and social issues, problems with functionality and activities of daily living, and the wide range of settings where care is provided. A focus on geriatric competence, emphasizing the unique features of common health conditions in older adults, is crucial in nursing practice, education, and research.Geriatric syndromes are often defined by isolating the shared risk factors associated with them, including older age, cognitive or functional impairment, and impaired

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