© Borgis - Postępy Nauk Medycznych 11/2008, s. 768
The next issue of Postępy Nauk Medycznych/Progress in Medical Science includes a range of articles about problems in medicine, and in particular surgery of the aged. The population of people aged over 65 from the current level of 12.7% will reach 20% of the general world population in 2030. The over-85 age group has been growing rapidly; the number of persons aged 85 or above will increase 6-fold and will reach approximately 20 million in 2050. The treatment of people in advanced age in the USA already consumes approximately one third of the budget allotted for health protection. Doctors, and in particular surgeons, have to prepare themselves theoretically and practically for health care of people in advanced age. In this group of patients dominant are illnesses such as: cancers, diseases of the circulation and respiratory system, the consequences of atherosclerosis, diseases of the osseous and articular system, cataract, injuries, perforations within the alimentary system, senile dementia and metabolic diseases. Immunity impairment connected with age increases the risk of infections. Surgical treatment of patients in advanced age is difficult and expensive. These patients are burdened by numerous illnesses. Surgeons need to learn surgery of the aged. Operations should be of short duration, minimally invasive and bloodless. After surgery patients should be quickly rehabilitated in accordance with the principles of fast-track surgery.
The aims of conservative and surgical treatment of patients in advanced age are as follows:
1. prolong the average survival,
2. maintain dignity of life and self-satisfaction from prolonged life,
3. increase independence and self-reliance of people in advanced age,
4. bring relief from suffering, in particular eliminating pain; although usually it is not possible to cure the patient in advanced age, it is very important to provide palliative care improving the comfort of life.
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