In this day and age, when science is making huge strides, you can find clinical trials testing treatments for a great number of different diseases. Many illnesses increase their incidence as people age, since in many cases, they are the result of the degeneration of the human body’s tissues and functions. Other diseases are brought on by unhealthy lifestyles which you might have led in your youth, and most types of cancer are also far more prevalent in senior patients. Some of the most common diseases in elderly patients are hypertension, arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, and dementia –more specifically, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis.
Up to 60% of all cases of cancer and 70% of cancer deaths occur in patients over 65 years old. As the percentage of seniors is expected to keep rising in the near future, it is likely that the number of cancer cases will also increase; this is a direct result of having a longer life expectancy. This poses a unique challenge to the healthcare system, since treatments and approaches will have to be adjusted to the needs of an aging population, and doctors will have to be familiar with oncology and geriatrics. The most prevalent cancers include lung, prostate, uterus, pancreas, colon, stomach, and bladder. Since so many cancer patients are seniors, it is very important to include them in clinical trials. Clinical trials can help develop new therapeutic alternatives which are more effective and/or have less side effects, improve quality of life for terminal patients or those with other ailments, and determine risk factors in order to prevent these types of cancer.
External link: Cancer Care Decisions for Older Adults
Other diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease are neurodegenerative diseases which are also predominant in seniors, and they represent a unique challenge for healthcare personnel. Since these diseases are currently incurable, clinical trials offer a way to research possible cures, prevention methods, new symptomatic treatments, and ways to improve the patients’ quality of life once the disease has been diagnosed. Ultimately, researchers hope to find a way to cure these diseases, and to be able to diagnose them early enough that treatment can be started before they become symptomatic.
External link: Degenerative Nerve Diseases
Given the high incidence of many of these diseases, clinical trials aimed at conditions which affect the elderly can be easily found. Finding new, more effective therapeutic options for conditions which predominantly affect senior patients can improve the quality of life and wellbeing of the elderly population.
External link: The 15 Most Common Health Concerns for Seniors
Clinical trials offer great advantages to the patients who enroll in them in regards to the quality of the treatment they receive. By participating in a trial, you establish greater control over your body, health, and treatment, since you it gives you the agency to choose a drug or intervention which could improve your health. Through clinical trials, you can also gain access to innovative treatments that aren’t available to the general population yet. Clinical trials also offer the chance to be treated by experts, since each trial is led by a team of doctors and researchers who work tirelessly to bring new scientific advancements forward.