Geriatric hospital admissions continue to rise at an alarming rate. A new British study confirms that surgery patients are getting older every year. In fact, if things continue in this vein, more than 1.48 million people aged 75 years and older will have had a yearly surgical procedure by 2030.
Senior adults are undeniably more vulnerable to falls and environmental risks than younger adults. This, combined with other stressors, can lead to longer hospital stays for seniors. And that’s not all. Here’s another frightening statistic: seniors with hearing loss generally experience a 32% increased risk of hospital readmissions.
All in all, ERs can be dangerous places for seniors. However, it appears that change is on the horizon. The American College of Emergency Physicians recently released the Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation Program. The purpose? To ensure that seniors receive overall quality care at all levels of the ER experience.
Why Seniors Get Admitted To Hospitals
Among the core reasons for in-patient care are sudden accidents or complications pertaining to chronic illnesses. These include:
- Heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Falls and fractures
Functional Decline: A Negative Consequence of Geriatric Hospital Admissions
The potential collateral damage resulting from geriatric hospital admissions is by no means inconsequential. Over three decades ago, Social Science & Medicine published a research study on the side-effects of hospitalization on seniors. The findings revealed that symptoms of functional decline unrelated to medical diagnoses were found in 8.8% of patients under 70 and in 40.5% of the elderly population.
Prolonged Hospital Stays Can Do More Harm Than Good
When a loved one is hospitalized, family members can be their best advocates. Undoubtedly, caregivers should remain vigilant and watch for signs of trauma, injury, or disorientation.
Yet, despite precautions, the cognitive changes experienced during a hospital stay can be frightening for both patients and caregivers. Some common causes of cognitive impairment in seniors include:
- Sleep interruptions
- The use of narcotic painkillers and sedatives
Undeniably, hospital-induced delirium constitutes one of the most common causes of complications during geriatric hospital admissions. Approximately 20% of all senior patients, 50% of those in surgery post-op, and 60%- 85% of patients on ventilation show signs of it. Additionally, hospital-induced delirium also comes with an increased risk of dementia.
The Hazards Of Immobility During Hospital Stays
A decline in muscle strength is certainly a common side effect of being confined to a hospital bed. However, for older adults, immobility for long periods can have serious effects on:
- Cardiovascular health
- Digestive health
- Bone density
- Blood volume
Additionally, bedbound patients also frequently experience:
- Pressure Sores
- Secondary infections
- Blood clots
- Changes in blood glucose levels
- Nutritional problems
So, what can family members do?
Actions caregivers can take to mitigate complications include:
- Making the surroundings as familiar as possible. Personal items like family photos, a familiar blanket, favorite novel, or music recordings can bring a sense of calm to the patient.
- Making sure the patient has access to personal assistive aids, such as eyeglasses, dentures, or hearing aids.
- Communicating with the medical team to ensure awareness of the patient’s health history. Undeniably, this constitutes a way to ensure that new medications don’t pose health hazards.
Home Is A Healing Place
Elderly patients remain particularly vulnerable to complications unrelated to the cause of their hospitalization. So, after the immediate medical needs of a patient are met, caregivers should do everything possible to facilitate a smooth transition home. Indeed, home is where the best healing can occur.
David York Agency Supports Reducing Geriatric Hospital Admissions
David York Agency understands the challenges of caregiving and is willing to provide all the support you need.
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David York Agency Home Healthcare is committed to providing personalized care for your loved one. If you have questions about our services, please contact us. We can help you through the difficult times and give you the break you deserve!