While it may be a tough reality to face, as your loved one ages, he or she is statistically more prone to illness and injury. Whether the case is minor or serious, the time could come where your loved one needs to visit the Emergency Room. As a family member or caregiver, it is important to be able to understand and identify the proper symptoms and necessary situations when you need to take your loved one to the ER. Here are some common causes for ER visits:
Falls: Falls are the leading cause of visits to the ER by seniors. These injuries could be caused by vision or mobility problems, but oftentimes homes do not have the proper safety measures in place to prevent these falls. Be sure to check for loose carpeting, uneven floors, and slippery rugs that can cause falls. Installing handrails and lighting in hallways can also help prevent falls and injuries.
Strokes: One of the more serious emergencies that send seniors to the hospital is a stroke. The signs and symptoms of a stroke are confusion and paralysis on one side of the body. Strokes may be difficult to detect because they do not necessarily cause pain. Also be on the lookout for slurred speech and difficulty speaking. Call 911 right away if your loved one shows any of these symptoms.
Strokes can be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and maintaining an appropriate weight.
Chest Pain: While chest pain can be caused by various things that are not life threatening, like indigestion or acid reflux, it is also one of the main symptoms of a heart attack. Other reasons for chest pain includes respiratory infections, blood clots, and heart disease. Chest pain should be taken very seriously and you should always call 911 right away if this symptom occurs.
Pneumonia: When the flu, or even a cold, goes on too long, a senior can develop Pneumonia, which is an infection that inflames air sacs in one or both lungs, which may fill with fluid. The illness can cause life-threatening symptoms and must be treated immediately, which is why it is important to treat the flu and cold symptoms as soon as they begin to occur.
Seniors age 65+ with chronic illness should also look into getting the Pneumonia vaccine as a preventative solution, as they are more likely to get Pneumonia than others.
Drug Interactions: It’s common for seniors to be on a variety of medications, so when a new prescription is given by a doctor, drug interactions can often be overlooked. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist every medication your loved one is one before he or she takes it in order to avoid adverse effects.
As a family member or caregiver of a loved one, familiarizing yourself with these common medical issues will help you prepare for situations that may occur in the future.