Cardiovascular System Speed, force of myocardial contraction decreases Cardiac conducting system deteriorates Resistance to peripheral blood flow rises, elevating systolic blood pressure Blood vessels lose ability to constrict, dilate efficiently What effects will these changes have on ability to compensate for shock? For heat and cold exposure?
Respiratory System Respiratory muscles lose strength; rib cage calcifies, becomes more rigid Respiratory capacity decreases Gas exchange across alveolar membrane slows Cough, gag reflexes diminish increasing risk of aspiration, lower airway infection What will be the consequences of these changes during chest trauma? How will they affect the patient with acute respiratory disease such as pneumonia?
Musculoskeletal System Osteoporosis develops, especially in females Spinal disks narrow, resulting in kyphosis Joints lose flexibility, become more susceptible to repetitive stress injury Skeletal muscle mass decreases What effect do these changes have on incidence and severity of orthopedic trauma?
Nervous System Brain weight of decreases 6 to 7% Brain size decreases Cerebral blood flow declines 15 to 20% Nerve conduction slows up to 15% What effect will decreased nerve conduction have on pain sensation and reaction time?
Gastrointestinal System Senses of taste, smell decline Gums, teeth deteriorate Saliva flow decreases Cardiac sphincter loses tone, esophageal reflux becomes more common Peristalsis slows Absorption from GI tract slows What effects can these changes have on the nutrition of older persons?
Renal System Renal blood flow decreases 50% Functioning nephrons decrease 30 to 40% What effect will these changes have on ability to eliminate drugs from the body?
Integumentary System Dermis thins by 20% Sweat glands decrease; sweating decreases What effect will this have on: Severity of burn injuries? Wound healing? Cold and heat tolerance?
Factors Complicating Assessment Variability Older people differ from one another more than younger people do Physiological age is more important than chronological age
Factors Complicating Assessment Response to illness Seek help for only small part of symptoms Perceive symptoms as just getting old Delay seeking treatment Trivialize chief complaints
Factors Complicating Assessment Presence of multiple pathologies 85% have one chronic disease; 30% have three or more One systems acute illness stresses others reserve capacity One diseases symptoms may mask anothers One diseases treatment may mask anothers symptoms
Factors Complicating Assessment Polypharmacy Too many drugs! 30% of geriatric hospitalizations drug induced
History Taking Probe for significant complaints Chief complaint may be trivial, non-specific Patient may not volunteer information
History Taking Dealing with communication difficulties Talk to patient first If possible, talk to patient alone Formal, respectful approach Position self near middle of visual field Do not assume deafness or shout Speak slowly, enunciate clearly
History Taking Do NOT assume confused or disoriented patient is just senile!
History Taking Obtain thorough medication history More than one doctor More than one pharmacy Multiple medications Old vs. current medications Shared medications Over-the-counter medications
Physical Exam Examine in warm area May fatigue easily May have difficulty with positioning Consider modesty Decreased pain sensation requires thorough exam
Physical Exam If they say it hurts, it probably REALLY hurts! EXAMINE CAREFULLY
Physical Exam Misleading findings Inelastic skin mimics decreased turgor Mouth breathing gives impression of dehydration Inactivity, dependent position of feet may cause pedal edema Rales in lung bases may be non-pathologic Peripheral pulses may be difficult to feel
Acute Myocardial Infarction If adding chest pain to their list of symptoms would make you think MI, ITS AN MI!
Congestive Heart Failure May present as nocturnal confusion Large fluid-filled blisters may develop on legs, especially if patient sleeps sitting up Bed-ridden patients may have fluid over sacral areas rather than feet, legs
Pulmonary Embolism Blockage of pulmonary blood vessels Most common cause is blood clots from lower extremities Suspect in any patient with sudden onset of dyspnea when cause cannot be quickly identified
Pneumonia Lung infection Common in elderly due to aspiration, decreased immune function Possibly atypical presentations Absence of cough, fever Abdominal rather than chest pain Altered mental status
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 5 th leading cause of death in males 55 to 75 Consider possible spontaneous pneumo in COPD patient who suddenly decompensates What would you assess to determine if spontaneous pneumothorax is present?
Dementia/Altered Mental Status Distinguish between acute, chronic onset Never assume acute dementia or altered mental status is due to senility Ask relatives, other caregivers what baseline mental status is
Dementia/Altered Mental Status Head injury with subdural hematoma Alcohol, drug intoxication, withdrawal Tumor CNS Infections Electrolyte imbalances Cardiac failure Hypoglycemia Hypoxia Drug interactions Possible Causes
Cerebrovascular Accident Emboli, thrombi more common CVA/TIA signs often subtledizziness, behavioral change, altered affect Headache, especially if localized, is significant TIAs common; 1/3 progress to CVA Stroke-like symptoms may be delayed effect of head trauma
Seizures All first time seizures in elderly are dangerous Possible causes CVA Arrhythmias Infection Alcohol, drug withdrawal Tumors Head trauma Hypoglycemia Electrolyte imbalance
Head Injury More likely, even with minor trauma Signs of increased ICP develop slowly Patient may have forgotten injury, delayed presentation may be mistaken for CVA What change in the elderly accounts for increased ICPs slower onset?
Cervical Injury Osteoporosis, narrow spinal canal increase injury risk from trivial forces Sudden neck movements may cause cord injury without fracture Decreased pain sensation may mask pain of fracture
Hypovolemia & Shock Decreased ability to compensate Progress to irreversible shock rapidly Tolerate hypoperfusion poorly, even for short periods
Hypovolemia & Shock Hypoperfusion may occur at normal pressures Medications (beta blockers) may mask signs of shock Why can older persons be hypoperfusing at a normal blood pressure?
Positioning & Packaging May have to be modified to accommodate physical deformities