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Other Things to Consider When Assessing an Elder

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:27pm
If your hiring a professional geriatric nurse to complete an assessment with the elder in your life or filling out forms with your parents, be prepared to spend from three hours to potentially a couple of days. Either can take considerable time. What factors should be considered doing taking a closer look the aging relative's life? A thorough assessment should include the following:

Health - Physical & Mental

Has the elder been diagnosed with any chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, congested heart failure? Or maybe illnesses such as bladder or bowel problems are evident or another form of heart disease, stroke, cancer? Does the elder have allergies? Make sure they, with your help track weight loss or gain. Do they have problems with incontinence? Unless you spend some time with them, that one may be difficult to detect. Do they have a balance problem? Notice their skin color or growths, see changes? Persistent fatigue or sleeplessness? Swollen feet or legs, or they limping? Vision problems sucfh as cataracts, or do they require vision aids to help them read or see? Can they hear you or do they ask you to repeat what was just said? Dental problems; gum disease, strongbreath, ill-fitting dentures? List their vital signs and health professionals currently being seen. Recent hospitalizations?

Mental assessment can include: Are they diagnosed with having psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety disorder? Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia? How alert are they? Have you or other family members noticed mood swings? Forgetfulness or wandering off? Are they confused or/disoriented? Do they seem sad or lonely? Decreased interest in reading, writing, and communicating? How well do they maintain friends? Or have an interest in life?

Using medications; all medicines taken, both prescription and/or over-the-counter, with times per day and doses. Are they taking the medications as directed and know how to avoid negative interactions. And do they understand the barriers to proper medicine use such as forgetfulness, expense, poor understanding of why they've been prescribed.

Daily living: Are they mobile or do they need walking aids? Special dietary needs, do they have favorite foods? Ability to dress, bathe, get up from a chair, use a toilet, use the phone, climb stairs, get help in an emergency, shop, prepare meals, do housework and yard work, drive safely.

Home and community safety: the neighborhood. Home safety - what are the hazards, adaptive aids needed, presence of alarms for burglary or fire. Ability to avoid telephone fraud and door-to-door fraud. Is the yard and house maintained?

These are a items that my family put together when we began to look closely at our parent's lives. You'll come up with your own too.

Check out Travis County's Caregiver's Resource Helpline - 1-888-797-7806. A good place to learn more infomation on assessing an elder's life and learn about care.
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