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Common Geriatric Conditions Linked to Disability

Dependency risk is highest in seniors with three or more geriatric conditions

TUESDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults, geriatric conditions that are not part of the traditional disease model of medicine are significantly associated with disability, according to the results of a study published in the Aug. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Christine T. Cigolle, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2000 Health and Retirement Study, which surveyed 11,093 adults aged 65 and older.

The researchers found that 49.9 percent of the subjects had at least one geriatric condition such as cognitive impairment, falls, incontinence, low body mass index and impaired vision or hearing. The prevalence of some conditions rivaled that of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. After adjusting for other factors including chronic diseases, they found a strong, linear association between the number of geriatric conditions and the risk of dependency on other people to perform activities of daily living, with adjusted risk ratios of 2.1 for one condition, 3.6 for two conditions, and 6.6 for three or more conditions.

"The findings suggest that geriatric conditions, although not a target of current models of health care, are important to the health and function of older adults and should be addressed in their care," the authors conclude.

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