oan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and is the coordinator for the Living Well Program.
According to the Administration on Aging, older adults make up the fastest growing segment of the population.. Older adults are more likely to have chronic illnesses that can affect their functioning and their ability to handle stress. These include heart disease, impaired kidney function, memory, vision and hearing loss, as well as poor nutrition and appetite, which may lead to unintended weight loss.
And cancer affects older adults more than any other age group.
Older adults face unique psychosocial issues when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. These issues can be overwhelming for patients and families and can have a negative impact on their well-being and the ability to successfully manage their cancer care.
The Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital recognizes that older adults with cancer may require specialized care to support them and their families and has created the Living Well Program to meet their needs. The Living Well Program helps older adults use the coping skills they have developed through years of living to help them face cancer with strength, dignity and the ability and desire to make decisions about their own health care goals and treatment.
For many older people, maintaining independence is an issue of paramount importance. However, their disease or treatment may interfere with their ability to function independently and may impact their decisions and desires about treatment. Additionally, the social networks of older adults may be diminished, as a result of death and illness, which can lead to loneliness, isolation and depression.
The Living Well Program at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center provides expert symptom management and support for older adults with cancer.
For some older adults, decisions about how to pay for treatment may be just as important as decisions about the treatment itself. Many older adults live on fixed incomes and may not be able to afford the additional expenses incurred as a result of illness like medical bills, prescriptions and transportation costs.
In addition to planning for their future, it can be helpful for older adults to think about the goals of their cancer care, which can include getting rid of the cancer, living longer, reducing cancer-related symptoms and maintaining function and quality of life. It is important they to talk to their doctor about their goals and expectations for the future so that treatment plans can best meet their needs and help achieve their goals.
National standards for cancer care in older adults(1)have been developed and emphasize the importance of multidisciplinary teams to help address some of the unique issues that have been detailed above. For more information about the Living Well Program, please contact Dana Marcone DeDonato at 215-829-6379 or email@example.com.
(1)Hurria, A., Denlinger, C.S., Extermann, M., Holland, J.C., Karlekar, M.B., McKoy, J., … Walter, L.C. (2012). National Comprehensive Cancer Network: Senior adult oncology: Clinical practice guidelines in oncology. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 10(2), 162-209.