Early detection of COVID-19 in the elderly

Published on February 6, 2021

Updated on December 25, 2023

These are my experiences as a registered nurse caring for geriatric patients in a long-term & rehab care setting where I was the house supervisor responsible for up to 151 residents along with managing the second shift healthcare staff.

By now, you've had your temperature checked ad nauseam as you visit various locations. Yet is checking the temperature of your elderly loved ones an effective way to know if they may have ? Are you aware that according to Vital Signs in Older Patients: Age-Related Changes, “older patients are less able to mount a fever response.” Most of my geriatric patients did not have a fever when they contracted , and most remained afebrile (without fever) through their stay in the COVID unit.

What's a more reliable sign of potential COVID-19 infection in the elderly? The answer to this question was a change in mental status. According to Altered Mental Status in Older Emergency Department Patients, are probably the most common causes of .”

What is in layperson terms? Let me share what families have shared with me to answer that question: “that's not my loved one,” “they are not acting right,” “sometimes wrong with the way they are thinking, behaving.”

Other common signs include increased falls, fainting (syncope), dizzy spells, unexplained loose stools, and yes, .

If your loved one is not acting like themselves, is having dizzy spells, fainting, sudden loose stools, or complaining of , consider having them tested for COVID-19.

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