As people age the diseases that they die from change. Older people die from diseases such as heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), respiratory disease and cancer. They may also suffer from multiple diseases or conditions that contribute to illness and eventual death.
Older people are more likely to have complex needs than younger people. Partnerships between themselves and the health professionals who care for them may help in providing comprehensive care. For example, there could be liaison between geriatric and palliative care services.
As Australia's population ages, there is a decline in the number of younger people who are available to help provide care. The way that families live and work has changed, with many moving away from where they grew up. Family members may be geographically separated. For many older people, care and support at home may be provided by an elderly spouse.
There a number of things that may need to be discussed relating to care. In particular older people are:
- More likely to have multiple medical problems, that may lead to a greater need for care
- At greater risk of adverse reactions from the medicines they take
- At greater risk of minor problems having more of a psychological impact
- At greater risk that illness may come on top of existing physical and mental issues, social isolation and financial difficulties.