Part of the psychiatric mental status exam (MSE) involves commenting on a patient’s physical appearance. Does the schizophrenic patient appear disheveled? Does the depressed patient still maintain his hygiene? While these are subjective assessments, I’m able to make them with confidence and accuracy.
Instead, I struggle with associating a patient’s age with his or her physical features. Does the patient “appear their stated age”, “younger”, or “older?” It frustrates me to no end!
After all, what exactly defines a 60 year old? How can you differentiate a well-kempt 40 year old from an average 30 year old? ❓
They say that at some point in a healthcare professional’s career, one develops the ability to determine if someone is sick just by looking at them. I struggle with simply determining their age in the same manner. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve as I see more and more patients.
Does anyone else have trouble knowing if someone appears their stated age?