Can Assisted Living Communities Prevent Emergency Room Visits?
Paramedics and first responders will tell you it isn’t uncommon for them to transport the same older adults to a local emergency room several times a month. An ambulance ride to the emergency room is frightening for both the senior and their family. It’s an experience caregivers want to avoid at all costs.
Why Do Seniors End Up in the ER?
There are many reasons seniors end up in the ER. An older home is often an unsafe environment for a senior with balance troubles. Forgetting to take their medicine or confusing medications can both lead to problems.
Greater numbers of seniors are ending up in the hospital
than ever before. According to researchers at Northwestern University, the number of seniors being hospitalized has doubled over the past ten year. Adults over the age of 75 now make up the bulk of emergency departments visits in the U.S.
Falls remain the leading cause of ER visits for seniors
. Every 13 seconds an older adult in this country is treated for a fall-related injury. Complications from health conditions are other common reasons an ambulance is called. Pneumonia, medication side effects, back pain, and surgery complications are other common reasons seniors visit the emergency room
A Supportive Environment Helps Decrease Frequent ER Visits
The good news for family caregivers is that many of the trips older adults make to a hospital’s emergency department can be prevented.
A recent congressional report
found that as much as 25% of hospital admissions could have been prevented if seniors received better care. Having health conditions closely monitored or making sure an older adult takes their medicine on time and as prescribed were two key prevention strategies that were identified.
Assisted living communities also help with:
- Fall Prevention: The physical plant of assisted living communities are designed to help manage falls. Handrails in hallways, grab bars in bathrooms and walk-in showers are standard. While no community can guarantee a senior won’t experience a fall, on-site wellness programs and fitness classes can help seniors lower their risk. Older adults who are stronger and have better balance can reduce their odds of ending up in a hospital emergency room.
- Around the Clock Support: If your aging loved one lives alone, it can be hard to manage their care around the clock. In an assisted living community, there is always someone nearby to help with personal care, trips to the bathroom, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation.
- Good Nutrition: Seniors who live alone are less likely to take time to prepare healthy, well-balanced meals. A poor diet can have a negative impact on everything from how quickly a wound heals to how likely an older adult is to experience a fall.
According to the New York Times, over half of emergency room visits do not require hospital-based care if an alternative source of care is readily available
. Assisted living communities
can be that solution.
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