While a wide range of health issues can cause hospitalization, these are five of the largest contributing factors to elderly hospital admittance. Being aware of the dangers of these conditions can help you take preventative measures to keep your loved one healthy and out of the hospital.
Dehydration can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract infections, heart problems, and loss of consciousness. Because seniors have a reduced ability to conserve water and are less able to feel thirst, they can easily become dehydrated. Some medications can also increase the risk of dehydration. Talk to your loved one’s doctor about possible side effects of medication and be sure they are drinking plenty of water throughout the day even if they don’t feel thirsty.
2. Falls and Other Accidents
Falls and other accidents can cause head trauma and bone fractures, limiting future mobility. Some of the most common bone fractures caused by elderly falls include spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand. Seniors can decrease their risk of a fall by exercising to increase balance and keep leg muscles strong. Taking preventative safety measures in the home can also help decrease the risk of a fall for your loved one.
3. Medication Errors
Unintentional medication errors are common among elderly individuals. As your loved one ages, they will likely be prescribed multiple medications, which can cause adverse drug reactions. Make sure your loved one knows the correct amounts and times to take prescriptions and doesn’t mix over-the-counter medicine with prescriptions unless directed by their doctor. Medications can be organized in pill boxes with instructions for how and when to take them, and reminder timers can be set on a variety of devices. If your loved one has trouble remembering their medication specifics, have someone assist them in taking them correctly. Learn about the possible side effects that come along with each medication and inform your loved one’s doctor of any side effects experienced.
4. Weight Control
Malnutrition can lead to a weakened immune system, muscle-weakness, and slowed healing times. Seniors are highly susceptible to malnutrition, as many medications can affect appetite, digestion, and nutrient absorption. If your loved one has a high alcohol intake, their digestion and absorption can also be negatively affected. Ensure that your loved one is able to cook healthy meals and is drinking alcohol in moderation. If this is an issue, cook and eat meals together or hire someone to assist them. Make sure to discuss healthy options with their doctor to ensure safe weight control and proper care in their situation.
Overweight individuals have a higher risk of developing diabetes, respiratory problems, knee osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, and heart disease. Seniors may be put at risk of becoming overweight if they are unable to cook healthy meals for themselves. They may also be at risk if they have decreased mobility, making it difficult for them to exercise. Make sure your loved one gets the help they need to eat healthy and add physical activity to their lifestyle. Discuss healthy options with their doctor to ensure safe weight control and proper care in their situation.
Dementia is increasingly common with age and can cause seniors to have a myriad of memory and orientation issues. Seniors can forget to take medications along with forgetting to drink water or eat meals because they think they’ve already eaten. Increased disorientation from dementia can cause seniors to become lost along with causing falls. Participation in games, puzzles, and thinking activities may help slow the effects of dementia. It can also be helpful for those with dementia to keep a calendar of events throughout the day and week, along with receiving assistance from a caregiver.
This is only a short list of the many problems that can cause hospitalization, and you should discuss with your loved one’s doctor any health concerns they may be at risk for. If your loved one suffers from any of the above conditions, be sure to discuss with their doctor healthy ways to care for these ailments and prevent hospitalization.