Growing older doesn’t mean you have to give up enjoying life. But the aging process does bring inevitable changes so it’s important to know what’s normal and what could signify a problem.
Learning the common reasons why older Americans visit the ER can shed light on what to expect as we age.
It’s a fact that seniors tend to end up in the ER more often than people aged 45-64. It’s also a fact that after the age of 75, the rate of emergency department visits increases. Knowing why can help older adults understand the aging process so they’re less likely to have to make the trip themselves.
6 Common Reasons Seniors Visit the Emergency Department
Seniors can hopefully stay out of the ER room by learning these common reasons for visits.
1. Injuries from Falls
Falling is the number one source of injury in seniors. Causing everything from fractured hips to head trauma, falls send many seniors to the ER. Preventing falls is key to avoiding the emergency room.
There are multiple health issues that can lead to falls, many of which are part of the normal aging process. Osteoarthritis, for example, is a natural process that affects the joints and decreases mobility.
Vision problems, which increase the risk of falling, are also considered to be part of the aging process. Seniors whose vision is changing should see an eye doctor to find out if anything can be done to help.
Older Americans can reduce their chance of falling by conducting a safety check in their home, wearing proper footwear, and improving balance through strength exercises.
2. Strokes are Another Cause
Seniors who experience sudden confusion, numbness, trouble speaking, or severe headache and dizziness may be showing signs of stroke. Called the ‘silent killer’ because these signs are often ignored, stroke is a leading cause of senior ER visits.
Eating right, regular exercise, controlling your blood pressure and quitting smoking can all help reduce your risk of stroke.
3. Pain is a Common Reason
Heart disease can cause chest pain, another common reason for ER visits. Heart disease is also a leading cause of death.
Exercise, proper diet and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol can help prevent heart disease.
4. Influenza and Pneumonia can be Deadly for Seniors
Seniors often have weaker immune systems than younger adults. It can make illnesses like the flu and pneumonia life-threatening.
Be sure to get an annual flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine (in a frequency recommended by your physician) to reduce your risk of contracting pneumonia.
5. Dehydration-Related Problems
Seniors often lose their ability to feel thirsty. This means they are more likely to suffer from dehydration than younger people. Especially during the summer months, dehydration can result in a trip to the emergency room.
Encourage your senior loved one to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and eating foods with high water content.
6. Medication Problems
Many seniors take more than one medication, which means it can be difficult to manage the schedule, potential interactions, and side effects. Drug interactions and the side effects from medications are another leading cause of visiting the ER. Failing to take the proper dose at the right time can also be dangerous.
Make sure your loved one’s doctor is informed about all of their medications (including over-the-counter medicines) and that the senior has a system in placing for sticking to their schedule.
Aging and the Physical Dimension of Wellness
Regular physical activity can help seniors stay out of the ER room. It also improves mood, encourages confidence, and allows seniors to maintain a healthy body.
Residents of Five Star Senior Living communities enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded physical wellness program. From Tai Chi to Body Balance & Strength classes to Chair Pilates, there’s a wide range of healthy activities for everyone to enjoy. It’s all part of the Lifestyle360 program.
If you’d like to learn more about the Five Star difference and Lifestyle360, please call or visit a community near you today!