10 reasons why seniors end up in the ER (emergency room)
Mr. Rathore is an independent senior who lives alone in his house. His children are settled abroad and his wife passed away few years back. He is fond of gardening and spends a lot of time looking after his plants. One day he was watering his garden and suddenly got distracted by a phone call. He rushed to answer the phone and he slipped and had a fall. He tried his best to get up and reach out for help but failed. His attendant was out to purchase some groceries. No primary caregiver was available at home. Who is going to help him during this emergency?
Emergencies do not come announced. All of us fall prey to emergencies from time to time. But as we grow older, the likelihood of a trip to the emergency department of hospital becomes more common. Seniors are physically weaker and more dependent on family members. They may need assistance in doing their day to day activities. Their probability of ending up in ER is comparatively higher than adults. In the above instance, fall is the cause of ending up in the ER and it is just one of the several reasons. Some of the common reasons seniors end up in the ER are:
1) Falls – As people grow old, there are balancing issues which often lead to falls and injuries. It is the leading cause of seniors ending up in the ER.
2) Heart disease – Cardiovascular problems are age related and commonly observed in the elderly. Some of the most common symptoms of heart dieases like shortness of breath and chest pain are reported by the elderly at the ER.High cholesterol and less physical activities has increased the risk of developing heart diseases. A proper diet and a fair amount of physical activities can help in reducing the risk of developing heart diseases.
3) Stroke – Another serious condition that sends seniors to emergency care is stroke, which is also called the “silent killer”. It is because seniors ignore the warning signs like 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. Being aware of the symptoms can help during emergency situations. Adopting healthy living habits, maintaining an appropriate weight and giving up smoking and reducing alcohol intake will help in preventing strokes.
4) Chest pains – Chest pain amongst the elderly is mostly an indicator of heart diseases. However, it might also reflect problems like blood clots, respiratory infections or gastrointestinal infections. The pain can be so severe at times that it makes them helpless, even in calling for help. This can be prevented by doing regular breathing exercises and eating healthy food.
5) Fractures and bone problems – Healthy bones can equate to better quality of life. But the truth is that osteoporosis is one of the most common problems of aging, striking more than half of all adults over age 50. Due to ageing people start getting osteoporosis,s which leads to a bone fracture. The loss of bone density is quite high in seniors. We must consult doctors regularly to avoid this problem.
6) Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – COPD covers a number of conditions including bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic airway obstruction. Fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath are some possible symptoms. Other lung irritants like second hand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust should also be avoided.
7) Adverse drug reactions – Seniors are usually on a variety of medicines which makes it difficult for them to properly manage them. Drug interaction and overmedication can also lead to adverse effects. This sends a lot of seniors to the emergency room each year. To avoid this risk one must carefully follow the doctor’s instruction before taking any medicines. It is also important to inform the doctor about any side effect, minor or major, to make timely changes in the medication.
8) Pneumonia – Older adults can be extreme receptors of 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. This common ailment also becomes reason to push seniors into the ER.
9) Spinal disorders or back pain – Spinal disorders like back pain and neck pain are also a leading reason for emergency care among seniors. Consulting physiotherapists and doctors for recommendations on some age appropriate exercises can reduce the chances of ending up in the emergency room.
10) Urinary Tract Infection – Dehydration among the seniors is one of the main reason for UTI. Symptoms like pain during urination, confusion, agitation and nausea are common. Drinking plenty of water and liquid can help in restoring the water levels in the body.
Samvedna Senior Care – Emergency and Respite Care:
Our emergency support service is for times when an elderly needs assistance in a hurry. In case of an emergency like a fall, sudden illness or unplanned travel, we are one phone call away, ready to step into action and deal with things. The services include ambulance assistance, an on-call helpline (8am-8pm), hospitalization support and more.
Respite care services give caregivers an opportunity to leave home for a few hours for errands, appointments or simply to unwind, with the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved ones are in capable hands.