Posted on Jan 14, 2020 in Senior Health
When you have elderly loved ones in your life, it pays to familiarize yourself with the most common reasons that seniors visit the ER.
As the global population ages, the number of people aged 80+ will triple by 2050 according to the United Nations. With a projected 434 million individuals over 80 by the middle of the century, emergency health care is set to become even more burdened.
While you might instinctively think of falls or heart attacks striking this demographic most frequently, there are many other reasons your aging loved one could end up visiting ER. We’ll highlight the leading 10 causes of senior ER visits today so you can stay on guard.
According to the National Council on Aging, a senior is treated every 11 seconds in an emergency room for fall-related injuries. This amounts to 2.8 million injuries and a staggering 27,000 deaths.
Falls remain the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors.
Whether it’s tripping on an old carpet or tumbling down the stairs, losing balance or falling because of failing eyesight, seniors are more prone than other age groups to taking a fall. Fear of falling can also seriously impact a senior’s quality of life if they start cutting back on socializing or activities to reduce the chance of falling.
Millions of seniors each year visit emergency rooms due to a range of issues with medication.
From taking too much medication or skipping a dose through to adverse side effects or complications brought about by medication, seniors are at heightened risk. Although seniors make up just 12% of the US population, they account for 34% of prescription medicine and 30% of OTC medication according to the American Public Health Association.
The New York Times listed just 4 medications responsible for over 66% of all ER visits by seniors. These are:
With 28% of hospitalizations of seniors due to adverse drug reactions and complications from medical treatment, make sure your loved one is in close contact with their healthcare provider before trying any over-the-counter medications. They might just end up doing more harm than good.
Heart-centered emergencies account for 1.8 million annual ER visits by seniors.
Common reasons for older adults seeking emergency care include:
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for Americans with heart disease accounting for 1 in 4 of all deaths.
A seemingly benign UTI can be hazardous in the elderly.
To compound the issue, UTI’s can be tougher to diagnose by causing behavioral rather than physical changes. These include but are not limited to:
Untreated UTIs in the elderly can trigger kidney infections and sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).
With 40% of seniors chronically dehydrated according to UCLA study, it’s crucial you make sure seniors in your life are drinking enough water. This is the easiest way to fight off UTI’s according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The CDC defines COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) as a range of conditions including:
Fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath are common symptoms so keep an eye out for these in any seniors in your life.
Pneumonia is a respiratory infection liable to land seniors in ER.
Although signs might present quite mildly, coughing and shortness of breath might not be COPD as outlined above. These symptoms can also indicate pneumonia. Watch out, too, for any signs of confusion or delirium.
The third-leading cause of death in the US, stroke presents with a clearly defined set of symptoms.
If you’re a caregiver, you should familiarize yourself with these signs since the best stroke treatments are only effective if stroke is diagnosed within 3 hours. Time is of the essence.
The CDC advises you to act FAST. This is the acronym used for checking face, arms, speech, and time.
Check out the full signs and symptoms of stroke right here.
Although younger drivers cause more car accidents than the elderly, seniors are more likely to sustain injuries.
Car crashes are the second-leading cause of trauma among seniors and a common reason for visits to the emergency room.
Seniors with diabetes are more prone to hospitalization and emergency room treatment.
Complications can arise including:
Osteoporosis can bring about bone fractures with bones weakened as they become less dense in seniors. These fractures can see seniors ending up in the ER.
Ensure any senior loved ones get sufficient calcium in their diet. If not, consider supplementation.
If you’re in any element of doubt, ask their healthcare provider to order regular tests for bone mass measurement. When ordered by the doctor, these are covered under Medicare Part B.
If you find an older adult in your life is regularly heading to the ER, it might be worth considering an assisted living community. With a range of benefits including medication management and great nutrition to a senior-friendly environment minimizing the chance of falls, we’ll be happy to arrange a tour of one of our 5 Landmark senior living communities. Get in touch today and we can help minimize the likelihood that your seniors visit the ER.