According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) over 136 million people are seen annually in US Emergency Rooms (ER's). The reasons are numerous. They include but are not limited to: substitution for lack of a family physician, hours of operation, or their physician actually sends them; the medical problem is too serious for the doctor’s office, prescheduled appointments, third party insurance acceptance, or more patients with health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, are but a few.
Of those persons visiting ER's over 20 million are 65 and older. The number one reason Seniors are treated in the ER are injuries and accidents. This is followed by cardiac events, adverse effects and complications including medications, abdominal and back pain, stroke, urinary tract infections, and Pulmonary diseases including pneumonia.
No doubt, each patient and age group has their own special needs and Seniors are no different.
Going to the emergency department (ED) a stressful at any age but especially for Seniors. That's why Sunbury Community Hospital is introducing an emergency room area designed just for older adults. An emergency department with focus on catering to Seniors is a recent hospital innovation seen across the country in response to the nation’s rapidly growing population of older adults. Providing the right care and comfort in the right environment to meet Seniors needs is the cornerstone of this offering said Lynn Taggart, RN-Director Emergency Services.
Experts found the noise and chaos of the typical emergency department has a negative impact on older patients. Senior friendly ED's are designed to reduce anxiety as well as provide specific support such as handrails and hearing enhancement technology. The emergency department staff will be comprised of a specialist who has education or training focused on caring for Seniors.
“Our goal is to address the whole patient and his or hers needs”, Lynn said, “we're not just addressing Seniors' medical conditions but also their need for extra assistance such as making sure Seniors understand the discharge instructions and to have nurses follow up with high-risk patients within 24 hours of discharge”. These extra efforts help ensure the best possible health outcomes, reduce the necessary readmissions, and increase patient satisfaction.
As a Senior Citizen or a care provider to a Senior, when choosing an E.R. these are some questions to ask:
-Is there someone on the ER staff with specialized education in the care of older adults?
-Does the hospital use medication reconciliation for pharmacy reviews?
-How often am I moved from place to place for tests and procedures?
-What is the average wait time to see a caregiver?
-How easy is it to register?
Things to look for:
-Handrails along walls and other safety features, fall mats and non-slip flooring
-Aesthetics, like appropriate colors and wall treatments
-Noise reduction features
-Simple to use call signals and TV remotes
-Hearing enhancement devises if indicated
-Oversize clocks and signage
-Reclining chairs, beds with thicker mattresses with the Senior in mind
-A bedside commode