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Health Maintenance in Older Adults: Combining Evidence and Individual Preferences



There is increasing interest in maintaining health and delaying disability for older adults as this population segment expands. And instead of focusing on a traditional disease-specific approach to health maintenance, there is an ongoing shift to a patient-centered approach, and defining outcomes based on the older adults' goals. In this approach, their goals and preferences are central, and other factors such as their health status and prognosis help determine which goals may be realistic. These subjective goals and objective characteristics are then balanced with the risks, benefits, and harms of established evidence-driven health-maintenance recommendations. Hence, older adults share their goals and preferences with clinicians; while clinicians share information on risks, benefits, harms, and uncertainties of existing health-maintenance recommendations, and help guide the older adult through how existing evidence can respond to their health goals and preferences. In this article, the concept of patient-centered care in the context of health maintenance for older adults is discussed; and health maintenance recommendations for older adults are reviewed. Mt Sinai J Med 79:560–578, 2012. © 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine