From a chronological viewpoint, medical treatment of the elderly (geriatrics) starts from the age of 65 years old. This definition per se is nowadays certainly not really an adequate definition of an elderly patient and the reason to be treated by a geriatrician. In addition to chronological age, other factors must be considered in order to define the elderly patient. Functional reserves decrease with age, which leads to increased vulnerability. Frailty as a term describes this situation and can be defined pathophysiologically by a mainly subclinical inflammatory state. Therefore, in 2007 the German Society of Geriatrics (DGG), the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG), and the German Group of Geriatric Institutions (BAG) have jointly developed a definition of the geriatric patient 1).
Current predictions suggest that the number of persons 65 years of age and older will more than double in the United States during the next 30 years. As a result, the number of elderly Americans could increase from 34 million in 1998 to approximately 69 million in 2030. This increase, combined with the disproportionate rate at which elderly patients use medical resources, will require that primary care physicians become increasingly knowledgeable about the needs of geriatric patients and increasingly efficient in the evaluation and management of concerns unique to these patients.
The value of performing a comprehensive geriatric assessment appears to be equivocal. Simple screening instruments can be helpful in identifying patients at risk for common health problems and in improving the clinical assessment of a disease course.
They are sometimes considerably disabled due to lumbar spondylosis and may need major spine surgery.
Less than one-tenth of candidates with malignant MCA infarction in Japan underwent decompressive surgery, and the vast majority of patients were elderly. Age was not found to be an independent factor for immediate mortality in this study, and performing surgery in the elderly may be justified based on additional evidence of functional improvements 2).