Elderly Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
1 year ago
Elderly Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Many Elderly Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients are Undermedicated

If you are over the age of 65 and have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), your doctor may not be treating you as aggressively as recommended. Researchers discovered that older people received this treatment in far fewer numbers than younger RA patients.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that worsens over time; early, aggressive treatment can alleviate symptoms like fatigue and prevent irreversible joint damage.

Undertreated RA Increases the Risk of Disease Activity, Irreversible Joint Damage, and Other Complications

"There are a slew of consequences that can occur if the disease is not treated." The most obvious are a decline in quality of life, an increase in depression rates, and an increase in pain. I believe it is one of the issues that we should consider.

What Causes the Disparity in Treatment of  Older and Younger People?

The disparity in prescribing can be attributed to a variety of factors, one of which is ageism. When the same disease script was given to an older patient, rheumatologists were less likely to recommend aggressive treatment. "There may be hesitation on the patient's side, but there may also be hesitation on the physician's side."

Other concerns are:

  • Because older people take more medications, there is a greater risk of drug interaction. Some doctors and patients may be hesitant to add more medications to their regimen.
  • Biologics have a tendency to suppress the immune system, which can be problematic for people with other underlying diseases.
  • Older patients may be less willing to make changes.

Aggressive treatment is also required for older people with RA

"There are a lot of other factors at work here that we don't fully understand." However, this does not imply that older patients should be given less aggressive treatment if better outcomes can be obtained.

Because the risk of side effects increases with age, physicians frequently want to protect these patients, but you're actually doing them a disservice if you don't treat the disease."

Doctors must initiate treatment discussions, and patients must strive to make well-informed decisions.

Doctors must obtain informed consent from patients. Outline the benefits and potential risks to the patient. If the answer is yes, you proceed. If the answer is no, you should look for a medication with fewer side effects. And if nothing is accomplished, it is ultimately the patient's decision, but you must include them in the conversation.

Rheumatologist Care vs. Primary Care Physician

Seeing your primary care doctor can aid in early diagnosis, but they should not be in charge of prescribing medications or supplements. It is always appreciated when they provide early treatment, but they should refer you to a specialist.

People with RA Must Advocate for Theirselves

Bring it up with your doctor if you, as an older patient, believe your symptoms are not being well controlled. Look for another doctor if your doctor dismisses your concerns by saying, "You're 78, that's what 78 feels like." Patients must be given the ability to speak for themselves. "Regardless of age, you must express your concerns about trying to distinguish between inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. If your treatment isn't working and you're still experiencing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, consult your doctor. Get a second opinion if your doctor continues to ignore you."

The more aware and informed a patient is about their symptoms, the better informed the physician can be about how to optimise medication use.

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