Quality of life is often defined as the degree to which a person is healthy, comfortable, and able to participate in or enjoy life events. As such, it is highly personal. What one person views as quality of life could vary widely with another person's. For many people, quality of life often revolves around health and health care options, so people and their doctors should consider the impact on quality of life when making decisions about medical issues.
Falls are common among older people. About one third of older people who live at home fall at least once a year, and about half of people who live in a nursing home fall. In the United States, falls are the leading cause of accidental death and the 7th leading cause of death in people age 65 or over. Once a person has had a fall, they are more likely to fall again.
Driving provides older people freedom, independence, and key social interactions with their community that many people take for granted in their youth. But the privilege of driving is based on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Drivers aged 70 and over have an increased motor vehicle crash risk per miles driven in comparison to middle-aged drivers. Those that drive infrequently are at greatest risk. Thus, impaired function due to age-related disorders should be viewed as a flashing yellow traffic signal—a warning that driving privileges should be reassessed.
Providing medical care to older people can be complicated. People often have many different health care practitioners at different locations. Travel and transportation issues become more difficult as people age. The medications that are covered by the Medicare prescription drug plan vary between insurance companies and change frequently. Assistance by a team of health care practitioners under the leadership of a primary care physician or a doctor who specializes in the care of older people (geriatrician) is the best way to deal with these complexities.
With aging, the ability to do daily activities (functional ability) declines to some degree in every person. Also, older people, on average, tend to have more disorders and disabilities than do younger people. But the changes that accompany aging are more than just changes in health. Social issues (such as living arrangements or type of daily activities) influence an older person's risk and experience of illness.