The detection of conditions with atypical symptoms is crucial to treating patients. Atypical presentations are more prevalent in older adults than in other populations due to age-related changes (Liang, 2016). Some of the problems that are difficult to recognize are common. For instance, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most often occurring infections in geriatric patients (Wojszel & Toczyńska-Silkiewicz, 2018). Several signs can be the same in younger and older adults, including increased frequency and urgency of urination, burning, and pain, odorous urine, and others. These symptoms constitute a typical presentation and lead one to suspect the development of a UTI.
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In contrast, the atypical sign that occurs in older adults is behavior change. In a recent case, a 72-year-old African American female came into the office, stating that she “does not feel right.” She did not give any other descriptions and could not pinpoint any possible causes for her agitation. However, knowing that confusion, restlessness, and fatigue are associated with UTIs in geriatric patients, I decided to perform a urinalysis on the patient (Wojszel & Toczyńska-Silkiewicz, 2018). The results of the test confirmed the suspicion of a UTI.
This case shows that atypical presentation can differ significantly from usually expected symptoms. It is vital to know the specific aspects of older adults’ health and behavior to detect issues. The use of general tests is also a viable strategy as it may help to eliminate a number of possible conditions (Resnick, 2016). In the discussed situation, I relied on my knowledge of atypical presentations as well as the necessary set of diagnostic tests. Other strategies may involve reviewing patients’ medical history, studying their response to diagnostics, and determining conditions by elimination.
Liang, S. Y. (2016). Sepsis and other infectious disease emergencies in the elderly. Emergency Medicine Clinics, 34(3), 501-522.
Resnick, B. (Ed.). (2016). Geriatric nursing review syllabus: A core curriculum in advanced practice geriatric nursing (5th ed.). New York, NY: American Geriatrics Society.
Wojszel, Z. B., & Toczyńska-Silkiewicz, M. (2018). Urinary tract infections in a geriatric sub-acute ward-health correlates and atypical presentations. European Geriatric Medicine, 9(5), 659-667.