What’s Ailing Our Oldies?

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  Last updated April 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm

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It’s common knowledge that, as we get older, we develop more health concerns but just what conditions affect our elderly has been investigated by a team from the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia.


They found that dementia occurred in 48% of the population while 22.5% had depression and 28.8% had other mental health issues. Among the physical health problems 22.5% had circulatory problems, 14.2% had arthritis, 17.1% had mobility and associated problems, 8.6% had endocrine problems and 6.6% had disorders of the nervous system.


For this study, they analysed the data of 167,543 aged-care residents taken from the Aged Care Funding Instrument data to determine what conditions occurred in our aged population and how prevalent each condition is. Over two thirds of the cases (69.3%) were female and 58.2% were aged 85 years or older. More than four out of five (81.7%) were classified as ‘high care’.


The report also found that it was various combinations of these conditions that were the most common causes of deaths within the aged population.


The researchers noted that, in order to deliver good clinical care by aged care providers, a clearer picture of the most prevalent and burdensome conditions and causes of death was required. The results from this study show that key areas for targeting quality of care activities include a focus on residents with dementia, depression, arthritis and the geriatric syndromes of falls and incontinence. They also noted that unclassified conditions of pain significantly affects the aged population.



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About the Author

Paul Willis
Paul is a respected leader in the science community with an impressive career in science. He has a background in vertebrate palaeontology, studying the fossils of crocodiles and other reptiles. He also has a long history as a science communicator, with a career spanning as Director of The Royal Institution of Australia, presenter and host for Australia’s Science Channel, working for the ABC on TV programs such as Catalyst and Quantum as well as radio and online. He’s written books and articles on dinosaurs, fossils and rocks and is finding new ways to engage the people of Australia with the science that underpins their world. Follow him on Twitter @fossilcrox.

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The Royal Institution of Australia is an independent charity, and the sister organisation of the prestigious Royal Institution of Great Britain, tasked with promoting public awareness and understanding of science.


The Royal Institution of Australia is passionate about building and connecting communities engaged with science, and as such works closely with scientific organisations, institutions, universities from Australia, and leaders to inspire the next generation of innovators and to create a lasting legacy for Australia.


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