Cancer, the second leading cause of death in the US, disproportionately affects the senior population. More than 60% of people with cancer are seniors, and seniors have the highest mortality rate from cancer of any age group. Seniors with cancer have different treatment issues than younger people, yet their special needs are often ignored when researching and implementing cancer treatment.
The following 4 issues affect the safety and effectiveness of cancer care in older people:
1. Seniors are under-represented in clinical trials of cancer therapies.
As a result, their response to new therapies goes unnoted. For example, many of the newer targeted treatments for cancer have side effects that disproportionately affect the senior population, yet remains unmeasured by clinical trials. Cardiotoxicity, in which the heart becomes weak and inefficient, is a treatment side effect that can be far more serious in an older person. However, while there is data to support the safety of a treatment with the side effect of cardiotoxicity in younger people, the underrepresentation of seniors in clinical trials means that the safety of these treatments is unknown in older people, particularly those over 75.
2. The senior population tends to have other conditions in addition to their cancer.
According to the AARP, 91% of seniors have at least one chronic health condition, and 73% have at least two. These issues may include chronic health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, as well as disabilities, whether physical, or cognitive. These conditions represent variables that are not generally accounted for when testing cancer therapies. Disabilities, in particular, can worsen with cancer treatment, and have been shown to lead to earlier mortality.
3. Seniors often have less ability to keep up with their care regimens.
Older people, particularly those who are frail and living at home, often have difficulty managing their medications, coordinating their care among their variety of healthcare providers, and even getting to their medical appointments.
4. Caregivers are under high levels of stress.
Added to these issues is the fact that most seniors with cancer are being cared for either by their children, who are also working, or by their spouses, who are also older and have their own medical issues. According to the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute, the distress experienced by these caregivers is often found to be greater than the distress reported by the person with cancer.
At Tower Lodge Care Center, in Wall, NJ, we specialize in geriatric care, and are best able to care for the unique needs of seniors with cancer, removing the burden of care from their loved ones. We take a restorative approach to care, maximizing each resident’s ability to maintain function and enjoy life despite their health challenges.
Tower Lodge Care Center offers long-term care, rehabilitative care, short-term rehab, respite care for those times when family members just need a break, and hospice care.
Our nursing staff is warm and caring, and we consider each of our residents to be part of our family, a person to be treated with compassion, dedication, and respect.
Better yet, contact us, at 732-681-1400, or by clicking here to schedule a tour.