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Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2012 Jan;12(1):5-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2011.00738.x. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Field medicine: a new paradigm of geriatric medicine.

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  • 1Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan. kmatsu@cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Abstract

It is only during the last half century that aging came to be truly thought of as a societal issue rather than simply a personal one, as well as a challenge to be tackled by science and medicine. Diseases used to be studied only in hospitals and laboratories, centering on patients treated there. However, caring for elderly people in hospitals provides only a small glimpse into their world. With an advancing aged population, the reality of old age and age-related chronic illnesses takes place in homes and communities. To truly understand the health issues of the elderly, we ventured into communities and visited elderly persons in their homes and cultural environments in Kochi prefecture. The Department of Geriatric Medicine, Kochi Medical School, was the first in Japan to incorporate the Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment in preventive intervention and evaluation of the medical problems of elderly people in field settings, which could not be completely resolved in the hospital. Geriatric findings in field settings in Kochi before (1990-2000) and after (2000-2010) the introduction of the nationwide long-term care insurance system throughout Japan were reviewed. Field medicine also enables us to explore the aging of people living not only in Japan but also in several Asian communities and, further, into those living in atypical environments such as the Himalayan highlands. Based on the geriatric findings of field medicine carried out in sites with different ecology and cultures, we reconsidered the optimal aging situation based on the activities of daily living and quality of life, as well as chronic diseases of elderly people throughout the world. In this review article, we would like to highlight the importance of field medicine as a new paradigm of geriatric medical research.

© 2011 Japan Geriatrics Society.

PMID:
21929735
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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