Atypical Presentations of Illness in Older Adults Essay

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Concept Paper


Concept Paper Atypical Presentation of Illness in Older Adults


An atypical presentation of an illness in an older adult can appear as a subtle, nonspecific, or unusual manifestation that is outside the normal range of signs and symptoms for a specific illness. Nursing care of an older adult requires a through assessment of acute, chronic or complex illnesses. Illness in older adults is complicated by numerous medical problems and the physical changes of aging. Identification of an illness can be overlooked simply because symptoms might be reported vaguely. Multiple overlapping factors such as environmental, sociologic, physiologic and psychologic aspects need to be considered in the nursing
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49). Only subtle age related changes occur in the

Concept Paper respiratory system. Changes to the lungs, thoracic cage, respiratory muscles, and respiratory centers develop as a person ages. Specific changes due to age include loss of elastic recoil, stiffening of the chest wall, inefficiency in gas exchange, and increased resistance to air flow (Ebersole et al., 2012, p. 50). A respiratory deficit can become problematic or life threatening when a patient has a sudden demand for increased oxygen or is exposed to noxious or infectious agents (Ebersole et al., 2012, p. 50). The renal system goes through both anatomical and functional age related changes. Urine is less concentrated, bladder holding capacity decreases,


and the size and function of the kidneys decrease. Changes causing urinary incontinence increase in frequency but should not be considered a normal part of aging (Ebersole et al., 2012, p. 52). Changes that affect the digestive system can negatively affect comfort, function, and quality of life (Ebersole et al., 2012, p. 53). Teeth become vulnerable to caries and tooth loss, taste buds decline, the mouth becomes dry, food passing through the esophagus becomes sluggish, gastric motility and mucus decrease, stomach pH increases, absorption in the small intestine decreases due to decreased blood flow, and peristalsis slows in the large intestine (Ebersole et al., 2012). How the central nervous system ages is

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