Tips to help the elderly through their pathology tests

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What seems like a simple pathology test to the average adult can be significantly more challenging to the elderly person who is more frail. Here are a few reasons to take extra care when an older person requires a pathology test.

This article is part of a collection of articles offering tips for taking medical tests. For more information that may be of value, see the articles on Coping with test pain, discomfort, and anxiety, Common tests, Tips on blood testing, and Tips to help children through their pathology tests.


  • The elderly are more likely to have problems with their vision and hearing, which may make it difficult for them to follow instructions or understand what must happen for the specimen to be properly collected
  • Older people have more problems with balance and mobility, factors that can make some samples physically harder or more dangerous to provide
  • Even a blood test can be more difficult because the skin is thinner, the subcutaneous tissue is less resilient, and the veins are more fragile and prone to tearing when punctured. The person may prefer one phlebotomist in particular who they like or who handles them well
  • For a person with dementia, even a brief sample collection procedure can be very traumatic for the patient. In this case, the need for testing must be carefully scrutinised.

If testing is a burden for an elderly person you know, talk to the doctor about the situation.

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