Dr. Angela G. Juby, MBChB, Cert Geriatrics
Associate Clinical Professor, Division of Geriatrics,
Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
Dr. Paul Davis, MBChB, FRCP, FRCPC
Associate Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta,
Professor, Division of Rheumatology,
Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly presents in the 3rd and 4th decades of life; elderly patients with initial presentation and patients whose disease persists into the later decades of life can present interesting challenges. In particular, the differences in clinical presentations of rheumatoid disease in the elderly when compared to younger patients may lead to difficulty in making a definitive diagnosis. There may be diagnostic challenges related to the interpretation of laboratory findings, particularly serological tests. Elderly patients often have comorbidities; therefore, pharmacologic management of rheumatoid disease must be undertaken with caution to reduce interference with the stability of other organ system therapies, and the potential for drug-disease and drug-drug interaction and polypharmacy must be addressed. Finally, it is important to dispel the attitude that "arthritis" is a process associated with "normal aging.