AgingWELL

Ge­ri­a­tri­cians dis­cuss how to safely pre­scribe medicine for se­niors

201 Health - - Geriatrics - WRIT­TEN BY LES­LIE PERL­MUT­TER

There is a huge de­mo­graphic shift tak­ing place in Ber­gen County, as well as the rest of the coun­try. There are now 50 mil­lion ag­ing baby boomers. “The fastest grow­ing age group is peo­ple over the age of 85,” notes Dr. Ben­nett Leifer, a geri­a­tri­cian with Val­ley Med­i­cal Group and di­rec­tor of geri­atric tran­si­tion of care at The Val­ley Hospi­tal in Ridge­wood. Ge­ri­a­tri­cians are clin­i­cally trained providers in the sci­ence of ag­ing.

“This in­volves main­tain­ing qual­ity of life for se­niors by man­ag­ing mul­ti­ple chronic func­tional lim­i­ta­tions,” Leifer says. He em­pha­sizes that an im­por­tant com­po­nent of his prac­tice is “min­i­miz­ing un­nec­es­sary med­i­ca­tion use, and thus avoid­ing hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.”

Dr. Lisa Tank, chief of geri­atrics at Hack­en­sack Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter and the lat­est re­cip­i­ent of the Clin­i­cian of the Year award from the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics So­ci­ety, ad­vises that “ad­verse drug re­ac­tions are one of the most com­mon rea­sons elderly pa­tients end up in the hospi­tal, and 90 per­cent of these events can be pre­vented.”

Why is pre­scrib­ing for older adults dif­fer­ent than pre­scrib­ing for those who are younger?

“A nor­mal phys­i­o­log­i­cal part of get­ting older is that the body

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