The onset of UC and CD may occur later in life. Although making the diagnosis of IBD in the elderly can be challenging, the clinical course, natural history, and response to treatment are similar for older and younger patients. In fact, both UC and CD tend to be less extensive in older patients, a feature that may contribute to the overall favorable prognosis for elderly patients with IBD. Overall mortality rates for both UC and CD appear to be similar to that of the general population except for those few patients that present with severe initial disease. Typical features of IBD in the elderly are summarized in Table 3. The differential diagnosis of IBD in the elderly includes infectious causes of enterocolitis, ischemic colitis, and diverticular disease as well as several other mimics of IBD. Awareness of the possibility of late-onset disease and the unique manifestations of disease in the elderly contributes to accurate diagnosis and timely treatment.
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