Scientific breakthroughs and medical technology has increased the average lifespan of people all over the world. Owing to this, the overall geriatric population has gone up considerably. Under these circumstances, it is very important that the aged continue to live a life of dignity till their very last breath. A lot of information about elderly patients can be gathered from the patients themselves and corroborative sources like their family, friends, neighbors, or healthcare providers.
As an individual’s age advances, multiple health issues and non-specific symptoms tend to crop up. Hence, it makes sense to obtain the past medical records as well as the current medical reports for comparison. This will make it easier to evaluate the impact of past illnesses on the patient’s overall function. Psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis should always be ruled out in aged patients, as you may never know what they have gone through in life. One needs to be an unbiased observer when collecting such information.
Since most elderly people depend upon some form of medication or another for various health complaints, a list of their over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, herbal medications, borrowed drugs, and out-of-date prescriptions, should be maintained. Determining why these drugs are being used and finding out whether they are effective or not is also vital. A number of medications commonly prescribed for the elderly may cause depression, confusion, and delirium. Asking about their vaccination status is crucial as many vaccines can evoke adverse reactions too.
Their social history can reveal much, especially in terms of isolation, sense of estrangement, suitability and safety of their home, substance abuse, and financial status. Information about their educational qualifications and past occupation can help in the interpretation of certain cognitive tests, which are used to evaluate their mental state. There is a need to always lookout for signs of elder abuse or burnout in the caregivers that could make patients dependant on them feel like a burden, thereby affecting the psyche of these aged people negatively.
Functional assessment can be done based on whether or not a senior citizen is capable of independently carrying out activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, grooming, toileting, and bathing without any help. A person is said to be satisfactorily healthy if he or she is at least somewhat ambulatory, being able to climb stairs or move in and out of house, even if this requires the use of aids like a walking stick, walker, or crutches. If a person can go shopping, drive or use public transportation, prepare food, and manage finances independently, he or she is considered to be fit enough for his or her age.