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  • Writer's pictureJada Poku

Cancer and how it affects senior care

Cancer is a disease that affects people of all ages, but it is particularly prevalent among the elderly population. As our population ages, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how cancer affects older adults and how we can provide the best care for them.

As outlined in cancer in the elderly” from the New England Journal of Medicine,” one of the main challenges is that elderly cancer patients are often frailer and have more comorbidities than younger patients. This can make it more challenging to provide effective and well-tolerated treatment. Additionally, older adults are more likely to have functional impairments making it difficult to participate in cancer treatment and follow-up care.

Despite these challenges, it is essential to remember that older adults with cancer can still benefit from treatment. Many older adults can achieve long-term remission or even cure their cancer with the proper treatment and supportive care. However, the key to providing successful care for older adults with cancer is to tailor treatment to their individual needs and preferences.

Several fundamental principles should guide cancer care for older adults. One of the most important is considering the patient's overall health and functional status when deciding on treatment. For example, older adults with good health may tolerate more aggressive treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy. On the other hand, some older adults may need less aggressive approaches to treatment.

Another essential principle is to involve the patient and their family in the decision-making process. Healthcare professionals should inform older adults with cancer about their treatment options and the risks and benefits of each option. They should also be allowed to express their preferences and concerns. Family members and caregivers can also be essential in supporting and helping older adults navigate the healthcare system.

Supportive care is a necessary component of cancer care for older adults. This may include help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing, as well as emotional and spiritual support.

Palliative care can also be an essential part of cancer care for older adults. This type of care aims to relieve symptoms, improve quality of life, and support the patient and their family through the end of life. As the Institute of Medicine’s study “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs” states, “Cancer care for the whole patient must attend to the psychosocial and physical aspects of care, including emotional, spiritual, and practical needs."

It is also essential to know that older adults with cancer may have unique financial and insurance needs. Medicare and Medicaid have specific regulations and coverage for cancer treatment, but it can be difficult for older adults to understand and navigate these programs. Family members and caregivers can assist with coordinating care and navigating the healthcare system to ensure that older adults get the care they need.

In summary, providing the best care for older adults with cancer requires a tailored approach. Supportive care is also an essential component of cancer care for older adults. GG Care’s voice assistant technology aids in this regard, supporting the carer and those in need of care to lead a more independent life. By involving the patient, their family, and caregivers in the decision-making process, we as a society can provide the best possible care for older adults with cancer and help them to live to its fullest.

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