While Crohn's disease is often thought of as a disease of the young, about 25% of new cases are diagnosed in individuals over age 60.
Diagnosis of late-onset Crohn's disease is often difficult, since some of the typical symptoms are similar to those of other diseases commonly found in older people. These include eschemic colitis, a condition caused by a lack of blood flow to the bowel, diverticulosis, and colon cancer.
Most elderly people who are treated for Crohn's disease, whether they have been recently diagnosed or have been living with the condition for many years, can use the same medications that younger adults use. Some find, however, that they can only tolerate reduced doses.
In addition, many older people have multiple medical problems. It is important for them to coordinate the treatment(s) mandated by their gastroenterologist with that of other health-care providers. To avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions, it is especially important to notify all treatment providers of changes in medication(s) taken for Crohn's disease.
Diet and nutrition can also be more complicated for the elderly than for younger adults. For example, other health concerns may require them to limit their intake of sugar or salt. In these situations, a nutritional consultation can be very helpful.