Medical Treatment of the Old.
IN prescribing medicine for old people, we should bear in mind the difference between the sexes. Women in advanced life are less excitable, and enjoy better health, frequently, than in early life. Old men, on the contrary, are more nervous, in their latter years, and consequently more easily, affected.
The physician cannot rely on the reaction of the system in old age. He must do more by his remedies, and depend less upon nature to help~ him out of straits.
Larger Doses. The torpid condition of the system in old age frequently requires larger doses of medicine to make an impression.
Fluid Medicines. Pills and powders sometimes pass through the stomach and bowels in the same state in which they entered. Fluids are more readily appropriated especially when the more active medicinal ingredient is mixed with wine, or some stimulating tincture, or aromatic water. These things rouse up the torpid stomach and bowels, and cause the medicine to take effect.
Medicine by Rectum. When the disease is situated in the immediate neighborhood of the lower towel, as the bladder, etc., it is sometimes better to administer the medicine by injection into the rectum.
Suitable Medicines for the Old. The acids, the alkalis, and the neutral salts are unsuitable to be administered much to old people. All metallic medicines must be given Sparingly, and with caution. Iodine and iodide of potassium are not very well borne. Narcotics must sometimes be used to some extent. Harsh and drastic purgatives are out of the question, except in some few instances in which they may be given sparingly in connection with compound tincture of gentian, or some other stimulating tonic. Sulphur is a valuable remedy for aged people. So are the stimulant tonics, bitters, astringents, gum resins, balsams, etc., together with the various carminatives, as anise, coriander, fennel, cascarilla, ginger, etc.
Surgical Operations. Some of the smaller operations in surgery need not be forbidden in the case of the old; but great operations are not to be thought of. There is not recuperative power enough to bear them.
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