At some point an elderly person will visit the emergency room. While most people think of obvious reasons for such a visit, like a heart attack, there are actually many other common causes for seniors to end up in the ER. It pays to be aware of what they are in hopes of preventing them.
Injuries caused by falls are the leading cause of ER visits for seniors. Whether it’s occurs during wintry months with slippery conditions, or is due to a misplaced step in the home- lacerations, fractures, and head trauma are commonly result from falls. Certainly a fall can happen anywhere, to anyone, but it is all the more dangerous for seniors due to weaker bones and an inability to heal as quickly as younger people.
Strokes are another regular cause for senior visits to the ER. The problem with strokes is that people often ignore the warning signs which is one reason why they are called the “silent killer”.
They include a sudden numbness in the extremities, usually on just one side of the body. Sudden confusion or trouble speaking, drooping on one side of the face, inability to hold up one arm, severe headache and dizziness are other signs. If any of these occur, call 911 immediately. Remember the acronym FAST: face, arm, speech, time.
Abdominal pain will land seniors in the ER and is not to be confused with chest pain. Food poisoning and infection are some main causes of abdominal pain. Malnutrition and dehydration are other causes. If seniors who are not eating enough, or drinking enough water, they are at risk of abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal conditions.
It’s important to remember that drinking enough water can help to avoid urinary tract infections, as well as dizziness. A healthy diet will help maintain energy, mobility, and can help to control healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Landing in the ER because of chest pain is frightening, because it can be an indicator of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Chest pain can also be an indicator of heart attacks, blood clots, or respiratory infections. If there is a shortness of breath as well as chest pain, these are strong warnings of heart disease.
A surprisingly high number of emergency room visits are due to side effects from medications. One would assume that any senior would be taking a controlled mix of prescriptions with oversight from physicians and/or pharmacists, but this is not always the case. Some seniors may inappropriately self-medicate, causing unhealthy reactions between the drugs and adverse side effects for the senior.
As people age it may be unavoidable that they end up in the ER at some point. However, knowledge of these conditions can improve health and help to prevent them some of those emergency visits.