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What palliative care can learn from geriatric medicine

Enguell, Hannah; Harwood, Rowan H


Hannah Enguell



Most people die when they are old, with multiple pathologies, and while living with frailty or dementia. These circumstances need the specialist skills of geriatric medicine. Death may not be unexpected, but survival and restoration of function are usually uncertain, influencing the approach to medical intervention. Assessment considers medical, functional, mental, social and environmental domains. Care requires a mix of acute, rehabilitation, mental health and palliative expertise, and evolves with changing circumstances. Relief of suffering and maintenance of function are key goals, but not the only ones. Mental distress is as common as physical; investigation- and treatment-burden are important; drug treatments are prone to adverse effects. A focus on person-centredness rather than the end-of-life is needed. This prioritizes respect for individual diversity in needs, assets and priorities, and rigorous decision making, to achieve what is the right intervention for that person at that time.


Enguell, H., & Harwood, R. H. (2019). What palliative care can learn from geriatric medicine. British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 80(2), 86-90.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 12, 2019
Publication Date Feb 2, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 1, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 3, 2019
Journal British Journal of Hospital Medicine
Print ISSN 1750-8460
Electronic ISSN 1759-7390
Publisher Mark Allen Healthcare
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 80
Issue 2
Pages 86-90
Public URL
Publisher URL