What to do if elderly relatives ailing

Dec. 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM

CHICAGO, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- With relatives often living far apart, holiday reunions sometimes include a trip to the Emergency Department for an ailing senior, a U.S. doctor says.

Dr. Mark DeSilva, medical director, Gottlieb Emergency Department, part of Loyola University Health System near Chicago, had five tips on how to tell if a senior relative needs immediate medical attention:

-- The person is unkempt with poor personal hygiene.

-- The home is very messy, dirty and has a foul odor.

-- Minimal movement by the person appears to be painful.

-- Mentally, the person is agitated or confused.

-- The person has not seen a physician in several months and is visibly unwell.

"Try to contact the primary-care physician first and alert them to the situation," DeSilva said in a statement. "But if holiday schedules or lack of information prevent that, bring them to the closest Emergency Department."

DeSilva said in the Emergency Department, you can expect the following:

-- Patients will be asked their name, the date, where they are and who the president is.

-- Medical staff will listen to lungs while patient takes deep breaths.

-- Patient will be checked for signs of cardiac distress.

-- Patients will be asked to walk so their gait can be observed.

-- Patients' vital signs will be checked, including respiration, blood pressure and temperature.

-- Patients' breathing will be monitored.

-- Patients will be checked for pressure ulcers, bruises and dehydration.

-- Patients' pupils will be checked to see if they react equally on both sides.

-- Patients will take part in a hand-grasp test to determine if grasp is even on both sides.

-- Their height and weight will be recorded.

-- Their urine will be checked for infection.

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