Long-Term Care

Physical assessment of the geriatric resident

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, March 22, 2012

Physical assessment of elderly individuals can present many challenges. Over time, you will become proficient in adapting the environment and modifying the examination to account for sensory changes, slower response time, acute or chronic diseases, and the resident’s need for assistance. Avoid stereotyping the resident or making assumptions about his or her mental status or physical ability. Individualize the examination to accommodate the resident’s deficits. Anticipate that the process may take longer than it would with a younger resident. If a caregiver or family member is present, privately ask the resident to state his or her wishes regarding whether this person should be asked to leave the room during the examination.

Consider doing the following when examining a resident:

  • Elderly persons are often very modest and uncomfortable if clothing is removed; arrange for a warm, private area
  • Provide draping for comfort and warmth
  • Position the resident in a comfortable position that he or she can maintain during the exam
  • Provide pillows, props, or other positioning aids as needed
  • Provide bright, non-glare lighting
  • Eliminate background noise
  • Warm instruments before touching the resident with them
  • Provide a chair with arms and a high seat

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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