Background: Asthma is prevalent among elderly Australians but is often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Asthma presents with the same clinical features in the elderly as in the younger population.
Objective: This article identifies current knowledge about the needs of elderly people with asthma, as well as the knowledge gaps currently existing in this area of health care.
Discussion: A significant proportion of elderly people with asthma go undiagnosed. Elderly patients under-report symptoms and attribute breathlessness to age and other comorbidities. Other difficulties include impaired perception of asthma severity, poor medication adherence, physical disability, cognitive dysfunction, and a passive self management approach. These all contribute to poorer asthma outcomes among the elderly. The management of asthma among the elderly is likely to improve if specific needs are addressed with tailored educational interventions and appropriate care.