The Cycle of Life
A patient's concerned daughter called me from out of town worried about his safety. He has been living by himself for the last 6 years ever since his wife died of cancer. The neighbors have mentioned that he fell once and lost his way a couple of times while going shopping. She wondered if this was common in elders and should she worry?
You may have heard the saying life is a cycle. Much like how a child learns to smile, talk, turn over, stand, walk, learn t...o toilet and finally drive a car, the seniors go through a sequence of regressive life events where they become unable to safely perform those actions. When you visit your child's doctor, you may recall them asking a series of question about developmental milestones. Well, much in the same way, the interdisciplinary geriatric team member would ask the elder patient, a series of questions about Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) to check for any regression life-events that need support. This is very much a part of Comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) for elders and helps to predict the need for support in daily activities. In the instance above, concerned family members should look for red flags to suggest a decline in ability to perform daily activities and have a discussion with their doctors to see what support may be needed.