A Guide To Foot Surgery For The Geriatric Patient

By William D. Fishco, DPM, FACFAS

     In regard to traditional perceptions, we need to redefine our approach to geriatric patients. Somewhere along the way in our training, we are taught that once people reach 65 years old, they are given the demographic label “geriatric.” As a result, there is a tendency to shy away from presenting surgical options for these patients due to fears that they may not heal, their bones are too brittle or that they have too many medical problems. The common excuses that I hear include: “too old,” “too risky,” “won’t heal” and “just live with it.” It is not uncommon for geriatric patients to present to the office with homemade orthodigital appliances as a means of coping with pain.      However, in the new millennium, patients well into their 80s are active with swimming, golf, tennis and walking regimens. I can specifically remember an 80-something-year-old patient of mine, a retired physician, playing golf in a fracture boot because of tibialis posterior dysfunction. It seems to be a trend that people are generally living longer and trying to lead healthier lifestyles. In fact, we have seen the development of retirement communities nationwide that promote the active lifestyle.

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