Pursuing better care for older adults

Models designed for treating a specific disease are poorly suited to treating patients with multiple diseases. According to Professor of Geriatrics Esa Jämsen, we can do better.

What are your research topics?

My research focuses extensively on questions relating to hospital care for older people. Which factors predispose older adults to hospitalisation and associated complications, such as prolonged treatment or falls in the hospital? What are the results of surgical procedures in older patients, and how can they be improved?

Recently, I have been particularly interested in questions pertaining to pharmacotherapy, as that is something we can influence, unlike, for example, many long-term illnesses. Having said that, it is important to identify and learn to avoid the adverse effects of drug therapies.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

As the population ages, the number of older patients in need of hospital care is rapidly growing. We have already heard of the congestion in emergency services and hospitals. Insufficient knowledge about the needs and management of an older patient is part of the problem in many places

In addition, treatment models designed for a specific disease are poorly suited to treating older patients with multiple diseases. As older adults constitute a very diverse group of people, therapies and practices cannot be the same for everyone.

The goal of my research is to produce the most directly applicable information possible in Finnish healthcare to help professionals treat their older patients better.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Collaboration across medical disciplines! The field of geriatrics is expanding increasingly into the hospital sphere, where geriatricians can offer their expertise to help the health professionals responsible of the care of older patients e.g. in surgical wards.

It’s great to see how all parties benefit when people from different fields and professional groups provide their expertise in treating older persons.


Esa Jämsen is Professor of Geriatrics at the Faculty of Medicine.

Read about the other newly appointed professors.