By the year 2030, nearly one in five persons in the United States will be aged 65 or older. This older population will make up the majority of the people visiting the emergency room in the coming years, due to several factors. Currently, it’s reported that almost one fourth of all seniors have visited an emergency room for one reason or another.
Caregivers providing elderly care to an aging loved one should be aware of these various reasons for emergency room visits so they can be better informed about the symptoms that could land their loved one in the ER. While it’s important to try to prevent some of these emergency room visits, it’s also important to know when the symptoms can be signs of more serious conditions.
Emergency Room Visits and Seniors
If you are providing elderly care for a loved one, here is a list of some of the common reasons a senior will visit an emergency room:
- Injuries from falls or accidents. Falls are the leading cause of injury in seniors, leading to hip fractures, lacerations and head trauma. With winter weather on its way and slick conditions outside, make sure your loved one wears proper shoes or boots when walking outside this season.
- Pneumonia. Older adults can be extremely susceptible to pneumonia; in fact, it is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly. It usually progresses from a milder upper respiratory infection or the flu, and symptoms can include coughing, shortness of breath and confusion.
- Complications after a surgery. Another common reason for emergency room visits is when a senior experiences complications after a surgery. It’s reported that one in five older adults will visit an emergency room within a month of their original hospital stay, and will end up being readmitted to the hospital.
- Chest pain. Chest pain can be a sign of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. However, chest pain can also be related to other problems, like heart attacks, blood clots, or respiratory infections.
- Side effects from medications. Seniors are usually on a variety of medications, making it difficult to properly manage them. Drug interactions can cause adverse effects on an older person’s health, and overmedication can also be an issue.
- Dehydration. It’s common for older adults to not feel thirsty as often as they used to, which can lead to them not drinking as much water as they need. Dehydration can lead to a number of problems, like dizziness and a weak but rapid pulse, and also urinary tract infections.
- Stroke. Stroke is often called the “silent killer”, as many older adults ignore some of the warning signs. According to WebMD, these signs include sudden numbness or weakness of the arms, legs or face (usually on one side of the body), sudden confusion or trouble speaking, seeing, walking, severe headache and dizziness.
- Back pain or abdominal pain. Various pain throughout the body, especially in the back or abdomen, are also reasons for senior emergency room visits. Back pain is usually related to spinal disorders like vertebral disc disorder, injury, or arthritis, while abdominal pain can be a result of food poisoning, kidney stones, malnutrition or dehydration.
Familiarizing yourself while these common medical issues that land a senior in an emergency room will help you prepare and know how to handle these situations in a calm manner.
For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.