There are a lot of things to think about and do when taking care of an elder. Some of them may not seem as important as others, and may slip through the cracks. Here are seven symptoms that require medical attention.
1) Abdominal Pain: Many things can cause abdominal pain. Some are mild and some are severe. We just spent four hours in the middle of the night in the emergency room because our elder had severe abdominal pain. Her diagnosis was a hernia , and it could be life threatening. This is something that requires immediate medical attention.
2) Blood Pressure: Many elders have blood pressure issues. Sometimes it may be too high and others too low. Low blood pressure can lead to falls. High blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart disease. While it may not require the ER, it does require a doctor’s attention.
3) Blood Sugar: If an elder is diabetic, blood sugar has to be checked frequently. If it gets too high or too low, steps must be taken immediately. If you cannot get sugar levels straightened out, call the doctor or proceed to the ER.
4) Chest Pain: While you shouldn’t automatically think heart attack, it is a strong contender, especially if heart disease is a known issue. Other problems can cause chest pain, including serious lung problems. If you suspect a heart attack, or the person loses consciousness, call 911 immediately.
5) Confusion: Many forms of dementia can be the cause of confusion in an elder. Medications can do the same. Talk to the doctor about what to do if you see this symptom.
6) Jaundice: If your elder’s skin, nails and/or the whites of the eye are yellow, this is jaundice. See the doctor as soon as possible.
7) Wounds: A wound in an elder can be a very serious problem. Many medical conditions make healing from a wound difficult. If your elder has a wound, keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t heal properly, seek medical care. Also, make sure the elder follows through with the care program. Dementia patients have been known to remove dressings at inappropriate times.
Most of all, follow your instincts. If you sense that something isn’t right or notice something that gives concern, talk to the doctor. That instinct could save your elder’s life.