Taking an honest look at where an elderly needs support is the first step and then assess at all the possible solutions in order get them the help they need.

Often from our real-life working practices, we do come across a geriatric patient with a medical emergency or traumatic injury.

 

Geriatric patients are not just "old adults"— they come with their own challenges, which include social, cognitive, and physical aspects. As Medical First Aid Service providers, most of our patient assessments and interventions need to be tailored for this population. 

 

The physical presentation of geriatric patients is different from that of other patient groups. Taking an honest look at where an elderly needs support is the first step and then assess at all the possible solutions to get them the help they need. Some basic differences to be aware of are:

 

  1. Skin will usually be thinner and more fragile; bruising and tearing are common, and it usually takes longer for wounds to heal. (Therefore, we will be extra careful when taking blood pressure, applying/removing the tape, bandaging, etc.)

  2.  Significant hearing loss is common. Communicate in a normal tone, but slowly. (We will use a simple, common language and ask if clarification is needed, and speak to the patient face to face.)

  3.  Musculature, in general, is decreasing and is often coupled with stiff, inflexible joints, as well as arthritis. Movement is slower and can be painful. Be aware and be patient. (We will be Using pillows, blankets to help protect them and make the journey more comfortable. Ask what position is most comfortable and adjust appropriately.)

  4.  Eyesight tends to diminish with age. Cataracts are prevalent, and surgery to remove them can affect pupil reaction. Vision can be severely limited, even with glasses.

  5.  It is quite common that geriatric patients can forget to take their meds or take the wrong dose. Therefore, along with asking patients about medications, it is also important to locate the prescription bottles, perform a pill count (if indicated), and bring the medications to the ER with the patient. In addition, we have to with the knowledge of commonly prescribed medications, their side effects, and how drugs may interact or potentiate, with one another.

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