The four traditional vital signs – pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and respiratory rate – are used to measure one’s most essential bodily functions. These assess the physical health of a person, show their progress toward recovery, and give clues to possible diseases. Knowing the normal ranges of these vital signs can be crucial for you should you fall ill.
Vital Signs in Loved Ones: Pulse
The pulse rate is a measurement of the heart rate or the number of times the heart beats per minute. Pulse rates vary from person to person and may fluctuate and increase with exercise, illness, injury, and emotions.
You can measure your pulse rate at home either by placing your index and third fingers to the side of your windpipe on your neck or to place the same two finders along the radial artery, the one closest to your thumb, on your wrist.
- Normal Heart Rate for Elderly: 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Rates that exceed or do not meet this range may indicate issues within the body. Since the heart is such a crucial component of one’s human system, paying special attention to this organ can be life-changing.
Vital Signs in Loved Ones: Temperature
Whether measured orally, rectally, axillary or by ear or skin, an elevated temperature of over 103 degrees Fahrenheit can be an indication of inflammation or systematic infection, also known as a fever or hyperthermia. A drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit is defined as hypothermia.
- Normal Temperature for Elderly: 97.8 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit
Older adults typically have lower body temperatures than youngsters, so be sure to have a baseline reading of what is typical for you. Keep in mind that normal body temperature varies from person to person.
Vital Signs in Loved Ones: Blood Pressure
Measured using an electronic blood pressure monitor, blood pressure is a vital sign taken to detect the existence of hypertension or hypotension. Hypertension is considered to be any measurement higher than 140/90 mmHg, while hypotension is any blood pressure reading below 90/60 mmHg.
The two numbers recorded when measuring refer to the pressure inside the artery when the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body (the higher number, or systolic pressure), and the pressure inside the artery when the heart is at rest and filling with blood (the lower number, or diastolic pressure).
- Normal Blood Pressure for Elderly: 120/80 mmHg or below (Pre-hypertension: 121 to 139 mmHg)
Some factors that can influence a blood pressure reading include stress, smoking, cold temperatures, exercise, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and salt intake.
Vital Signs in Loved Ones: Respiratory Rate
The respiratory rate is the number of breaths a person at rest takes per minute. It may increase with fever, illness, and other medical conditions.
- Normal Respiratory Rate for Elderly: 12 to 18 breaths per minute
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