The emergency room is not an ideal place for anyone. First, you visit the ER when you're not feeling well or are hurt. But it's also full of other people who are having the same issues, which means it can be dangerous for those who are vulnerable to germs and other issues. That's not to say that seniors who have experienced a sudden health issue shouldn't seek the proper attention; staying out of the ER if you're dealing with something serious can be equally dangerous. But seniors can also take actions throughout their daily life to reduce their potential exposure to the ER.
Injuries from falls are one of the top reasons seniors report to emergency rooms. In fact, the National Council on Aging estimates that a senior is treated in the nation's emergency rooms every 13 seconds for fall-related issues.
You can reduce your risk of ending up in the ER over a fall by engaging in strong fall prevention. Some tips include:
Having safety bars or other equipment installed in the bathroom or on any stairs you might regularly traverse.
Keeping cords and other obstacles out of walk ways in your home.
Setting furniture up to support a clear path in your living space.
Ensuring carpets or rugs are property installed or lay flat to keep small rolls or lumps from creating a tripping hazard.
Cleaning up spills quickly or asking others to do so to prevent slips.
Wearing socks, slippers or shoes with soles that ensure a nonslip tread.
Not walking on sidewalks or other outdoor areas where ice may be an issue.
Paying attention to your nutritional needs can help you stay as healthy as possible. Good nutrition can help ward off illness and keep chronic conditions in check. And when you're eating right, your body is more likely to be able to stand up to minor colds and other issues without experiencing emergency distress.
Often, emergency visits happen because someone ignored a minor issue until it became a major one. Follow up with your regular health care providers for well checks and minor issues to stay on top of things. Regular maintenance care, especially for chronic conditions, can help reduce the number of health surprises you might face.
Older adults often end up in the emergency room after taking the wrong medication, forgetting to take medications or using an inappropriate dose. The more medications you have to deal with, the easier it can be to make a mistake. Make sure you ask questions at the doctor's office and pharmacy to ensure you understand your medication and use tools such as app reminders and pill boxes to keep your medicine regimen in order.
Residents of Bethesda Gardens in Phoenix benefit from a number of services to help keep them out of the emergency room. Our staff provides assistance with medication management, fall prevention, nutrition and exercise. And seniors who aren't sure whether an issue needs medical attention can reach out to 24-hour staff for support.