Why Do So Many Seniors End Up in the Emergency Room?
Emergencies happen from time to time, particularly as we age. Seniors visit the emergency department at higher rates than other age groups.
A quarter of seniors have visited the emergency room at some point. Today, more than 19.6 million emergency department (ED) visits in the United States are made by adults aged 65 and over.
What health issues bring so many seniors to the emergency room? We tend to assume medical conditions like stroke and heart attacks land most older adults in the hospital. In reality, seniors visit the ER for a number of other reasons that may surprise you.
Top Reasons Seniors Go to The Emergency Room
- Falls – Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries among older adults. Every 13 seconds a senior is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
- Car accidents and injuries – Car crashes are the second most common form of trauma among older adults, according to the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
- Medication reactions – Adverse drug reactions put millions of seniors in the emergency room each year. According to the New York Times, four medications in particular are responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older Americans. They are blood thinners, insulin injections, aspirin, and oral diabetes drugs.
- Heart Disease – Of the over 100 million emergency room visits that occur in the U.S., approximately 1.8 million are related to heart disease. Seniors may call an ambulance if they experience heart-related symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and exhaustion.
- Diabetes – Seniors are at risk for hospitalization from diabetes-related complications ranging from strokes and heart attacks to ulcers and dehydration caused by elevated blood sugar levels.
Plan Ahead for an Emergency Room Visit
The best thing to do is to plan ahead. Keep a complete list of medications that you or your loved one is currently taking, as well as a list of any medications he or she is allergic to. It’s also a good idea to have a brief medical history of past procedures, surgeries, or prior hospitalizations written out along with the contact details for medical providers and insurance information.
Senior-friendly Emergency Rooms
Recently, there has been a move in the healthcare industry to make emergency rooms more welcoming to older adults. These senior specialty ERs are different from regular ERs: they have softer lighting, non-slip floors, bedside toilets, thicker mattresses, and many other features that aim to provide higher quality care to seniors.
A trip to the emergency room isn’t something most of us wish for ourselves at any age. For seniors, maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle with age is the best way to stay out of the hospital and continue to enjoy life.