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Conceptualizing geriatric syndromes 

Conceptualizing geriatric syndromes
Conceptualizing geriatric syndromes

Marcel G. M. Olde Rikkert


July 29, 2020: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.

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date: 04 July 2022

Geriatric syndromes, such as falling, delirium, and malnutrition, are common in older patients, and characterized by the presence of several disorders at the same time. These geriatric syndromes can be divided into acute (e.g. delirium) and non-acute (e.g. dizziness, falls) geriatric syndromes. The main criterion of multicausality is directly linked to frailty in older patients, as frailty results in a closer linkage and increased interaction between organ functions, which explains why several organs, diseases, and stressors are involved in each geriatric syndrome. There is interesting preliminary evidence for the existence of generic warning signals for the recurrence of acute geriatric syndromes, of which the most important is slowing down of recovery after a perturbation of the organ functions involved in a geriatric syndrome. All these pathophysiological mechanisms have important implications for diagnostic work up and treatment of geriatric syndromes, which together makes up the main part of geriatric patient care.

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