difficulties assessing the elderly

Last reviewed 01/2018

Some of the more common difficulties in assessing the elderly include:

  • non-specific symptoms - confusion, falls or deteriorating functional ability - may be the only clue
  • symptoms such as pain may be reduced or absent despite major disease
  • physical signs may be much harder to elicit
  • lab tests may be unreliable, especially white cell counts and ESR - use C-reactive protein
  • multiple aetiology of symptoms such as breathlessness
  • drug toxicity and interactions especially as renal and hepatic function deteriorate
  • polypharmacy especially digoxin and analgesics