When Should I Be Worried about My Older Parent’s Fever?

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When Is There Cause for Concern in a Senior's Fever in SARASOTA, FL

Realistically, not every fever is a reason for concern, even with an elderly loved one. For instance, some seniors develop slight fevers when recovering from seasonal colds, illnesses, or recent surgery. However, there are times when a fever is the first sign something’s wrong with a senior. Below, you’ll find some tips to consider when determining if your loved one’s fever is something you should be concerned about.

Get an Accurate Baseline Temperature First

When you know for sure your loved one is healthy, take his or her temperature so you have an accurate reading to use as a baseline. While 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is what most people think of as a “normal” temperature, older people typically have body temperatures that are slightly lower than what’s common in their younger counterparts.

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Watch for Fevers without a Clear/Unexpected Source

In younger people, it’s more common for fevers to develop because of known or clear reasons. For example, a child might have a fever if he or she has ongoing issues with ear infections. However, it’s not unusual for seniors to have fevers without clear sources. If this happens, it’s referred to as a fever of unknown origin. Fevers of this nature in an older person may be related to:

• Influenza and other viral infections
• Urinary tract infections that haven’t been diagnosed
• Undetected bed sores
• Heat-related reactions
• Malignant (cancerous) growths that haven’t been discovered yet
• Issues with prescription medications
• Gastrointestinal infections
• Shingles and other skin infections

Be Concerned about Persistent & Increasing Fevers

Once you detect a fever in your loved one, continue to monitor it. If the fever is still present or increasing after several days, schedule an appointment with the doctor to find out what’s going on. This process may involve blood and urine tests or specialized testing to determine a likely source.

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Seek Medical Attention for Fevers Combined with Troublesome Symptoms

A fever itself is a symptom, since it develops in response to something else going on in the body, which is sometimes perfectly normal and beneficial. This being said, it’s best to seek medical attention if your loved one’s fever has gotten up to 103 degrees or higher. Also, seek medical input when a fever is combined with other troublesome symptoms. Some of these include:

• Headaches and/or dizziness
• Disorientation or confusion
• Difficulty breathing and/or chest pain
• Sudden skin rashes
• Seizures or convulsions

Be Concerned about “Expected Fevers” that Last Too Long

As mentioned above, some seniors get slight fevers when recovering from illnesses or surgery. This typically happens as the body recovers and heals. However, you’ll want to be concerned if a post-surgery or illness-related fever lingers or gets worse.

Take an Accurate Temperature

To get an accurate temperature for your loved one, use a digital thermometer that’s placed in the mouth under the tongue. Take a few additional readings spaced out by 15-20 minutes or so to get an accurate assessment if the initial results seem high. 

Every senior has different needs when aging in place. Some simply need occasional assistance with household chores, while others may be managing a serious illness and require more extensive 24-hour care. Sarasota seniors can count on Home Care Assistance to provide the in-home care they need and deserve. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (941) 702-5525 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.

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