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Flashcards in Geriatric Emergencies Deck (51)
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65 years or older



Sadness over the loss of friends and loved ones


Human Growth and development

Peaks around late 20's and early 30's


*Respiratory Changes*

-Decrease in elasticity of lungs
-Decrease in size and strength of muscles
-Decrease compliance
-Decrease reserve capacity
-More prone to infections
-Decrease in partial pressure
-Alveoli decreases
-Curvatures of spine
-Cough and gag reflex decrease with age


*Cardiovascular Chnages*

-Arteriosclerosis: stiffening of vessel walls
-Increase blood pressure leads to over production of abnormal collagen and elastin which contribute to vascular stiffness
-Alrtic Sclerosis: aortic valve thickens due to fibrosis and calcification
-Aortic Stenosis: aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart
-A fib and flutter common due to the wear of the primary pacemaker of the heart


*Nervous System Changes*

-Decline in mental function, memory and thought
-Brain decreases in size 5-10% as it ages
-Decrease in ability to hear and see
-Cataracts: cloudy of the eyes due to becoming hard
-Glaucoma: increase intraocular pressure and damages optic Nerve
-Presbycusis: progressive hearing loss, and unable to hear high sounds and differentiate between sound and background noise
-Meniere Disease: vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus
-Sense of touch and smell decrease as well as speech
-Proprioception: impaired sense of body position


*Digestive Changes*

-Decreased in taste buds
-Increase in heartburn because pyloric Sphincter is more flexible
-Slowing of peristalsis causes constipatiom
-Forceful straining leads to vagaling out
-Hepatic Enzymes decrease in liver so medication detoxification is slowed and can result in toxicity


*Renal Changes*

-Decrease in weight of kidney
-Smaller effective filtering surface
-Kidneys respond sluggishly to sodium deficiency
-May lose lot of salt before kidneys stop depletion of salt making patient vulnerable to over hydration and volume overload
-Prone to hyperkalemia


*Immunologic Changes*

-Prone to infections
-Pnuemonia, leading cause of death from infection in geriatrics


*Integumentary Changes*

-Wrinkling and loss of skin causes easier bruising, bleeding, loss of thermoregulation
-Sebacous Glands produce less oil, making skin drier
-Foliciles produce less melanin which make the hair turn grey
-Melanocytes in skin decrease, causing pale color and cause age spots
-Nails become thinner and more brittle


*Homeostatic Changes*

-Thirst mechanism becomes depressed
-Hunter is depressed
-Pain sensory depressed
-Decrease temperature


*Musculoskeletal Changes*

-Decrease in bone mass
-Joints lose flexibility
-Muscle mass decreases


GEMS Diamond Assesment

Geriatric- be nice
Environmental- home, temps, surroundings
Medical- history, pills
Social- daily living, activities



Inflammation of the lung secondary to infection
Typical symtpoms are not seen due to acute confusion (delirium)
Management: fluid, oxygen, analgesic to reduce fever



Chronic Bronchitis and emphysema
Loss of elasticity of lungs exacerbate disease
-bronchial constriction
-airway inflammation
-mucus production
Management: bronchodilator, steroids, antibiotics, CPAP if needed can be considered



1 in 20 elderly people have asthma
-regular treatment, racemic Epi may be considered



Blood vessel supplying lungs becomes blocked by a clot or embolism
-Often released from lower extremity
-DVT common cause
(Coumadin and Heparin and compression stockings)
Classic Triad of Dyspnea, Chest Pain, and Hemoptysis



Major risks include hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyspnea, lack of physical activity



Most common reason for hospitalization in US
Acute exacerbation related to medication noncompliance, poor diet, a fib, acute MI
-monitors fluid closely



"Acute brain syndrome"
Characterized by Disorganized thoughts, inattention, memory loss, disorientation, hallucinations, delusion
-experiences rapid alteration between mental statuses such as lethargy, agitation, disorganized thinking, changes in perception
-Frequent causes: infection, glucose, medications, temperature
-DELERIUMS : Drugs, Emotional, Low Pa02, Infection, Retention, Ictal, undernutrition, metabolism, subdural hematoma



Produces irreversible brain failure
-Signs symptoms: shortened attention, talking nonsense, hallucinations, confusion, disoreintation, personality changes
-Causes : infections, strokes, head injuries, poor nutrition, and medications
-Most common types = Alzheimer's and multi infarct
-Progressive loss of cognitive function, impairments of memory, visual perception, and cognitive skills


Alzheimer's Disease

Most common type of dementia
-begins with subtle symtpoms such as losing items, forgetting people's names
-African Americans and latinos are more prone to disease
-MCI: mild cognitive impairment- early stage of Alzheimer's
-Later stages involve sundowners, difficulty reading and writing
-not a normal part of aging


Parkinson's Disease

Age related neurological disorder with two or more symptoms
-resting tremor, slowness of movement, ridgidity, or stiffness of extremities or trunk
-caused by degeneration of the substantia nigra, an area of brain that controls voluntary movement by producing neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is used by cells to transmit impulses, so loss of dopamine causes loss of motor function
-can affect one or both sides of body


Bowel Obstruction

Large Bowel Obstruction- likely caused by cancer, impacted stool, or sigmoid volvulus
Small Bowel Obstruction- commonly due to gallstones
-nearly 1/3 of elderly people have gallstones
-with one or more instances of cholecystitis, the gallbladder adheres to the small bowel and, over time, creates and opening, or fistula. The stone then drops into the Bowel and produces an obstruction.


Biliary Disease

Includes cirrhosis, hepatitis, cholecystitis,
-Signs and symptoms: jaundice, fever, RUQ pain, vomiting/nausea


Peptic Ulcer Diesease

Chronic use of NSAIDS
social factors, high stress professions can cause ulcers
-stomach pain goes away when eating but comes back later


GI Bleed

Decreased rates of peristalsis increase the likelihood that irritating substances will damage gastric lining
-Bloody stool usually is indicative of bleeding from the lower GI
-Blood from stomach is dark and tarry
-Briht Red in stool usually comes from rectum or large intestine


Urinary Tract Infections

Most common hospital infection to cause sepsis
Usually develop in lower urinary tract (urethra and bladder)
-Signs and Symptoms: fever, SOB, GI symtpoms, poor urinary output, hematuria



As age increases, the capacity of the bladder and strength of the Sphincter muscles decreases.
-Pressure on urinary Sphincter is responsible for triggering recognition of the need to urinate, a decrease in Sphincter tone may keep older people from realizing that their bladder is full until they can no longer hold it.
-Stress incontinence: occurs during activities such as laughing, coughing, lifting and exercise
-Urge incontinence: triggered by hot or cold fluids, running water, and thinking about urination



More prone to hyperglycemia hyperosmolar nonketoic coma (HHNC)
Hyperosmolarity and hyperglycemia lead to osmotic dieresis and osmotic shift of fluid to vascular space, resulting in further intracellular dehydration.
-Signs and Symptoms: dizziness, confusion, AMS, polydipsia
-most frequent cause of a HHNC is INFECTION. Others are hypo/hyperthermia, strokes, cardiac disease, pancreatitis
- >500mg/dl sugar and has acute dehydration and confusion
-Normal BGL is between 70-120 less than 45 is hypoglycemic