Lesson 4 More Health Issues

Lesson 4a: Delirium


  • Serious mental disorder that leads to confusion in thought, behavior changes, reduced awareness of the environment.
  • Extremely common in (hospitalized) ageing population
  • Complex concept and multi-factorial, which explains why it continues to be under diagnosed and poorly managed
  • Increase the risk for subsequent functional decline and mortality
  • medicines,
  • surgeries (anesthesia),
  • alcohol or drug intoxication or withdrawal,
  • medical condition,
  • chronic or terminal illness,
  • fever and acute infection, etc.
Differences between the symptoms 



Acute (hours to weeks)




Consciousness: fluctuating

Consciousness: rarely alters

Caused by a medical illness


Speech: slow, incoherent

Difficulty in finding words

Lesson 4b: Cancer, Malnutrition and Oral Health

Can develop at any age, but it is much more common in older people.

Most common cancers in older adults are:

  • prostate cancer;
  • bladder cancer pancreatic cancer;
  • lung cancer – 80% or more of all cases are in adults over the age of 60.

Cancer treatment may be more challenging and complicated for older adults as they have also other health issues.

  • Patient usually decides with family and doctor about what is the best treatment plan (e.g. surgery, radiation therapy, etc.)

When the body does not get the right amount of vitamins, minerals & other nutrients.

Contributes to:

  • progressive decline in health (weak immune system);
  • reduced physical and cognitive functional status;
  • increased utilization of health care services;
  • premature institutionalization,
  • increased mortality.

Main causes

  • Dementia
  • Depression

Food choices can influence the development of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.

Important for the health and wellbeing of older people, particularly those with existing health conditions.

As people get older, the need for dental care increases.

Common diseases:

  • dental caries;
  • periodontal disease;
  • tooth loss;
  • dry mouth (xerostomia);
  • oral cancer.

Oral diseases affect:

  • chewing function
  • nutritional intake
  • elderly’s ability to interact socially
  • quality of life