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Marjorie P. Lee Senior Living Blog

Plummeting ER Scores Complicate Senior Healthcare

Feb 27, 2014 9:28:00 AM

er score effect on senior healthcareIt won’t be long before senior healthcare starts feeling the strain of plummeting emergency care scores—if you aren’t feeling it already.

Just picture it. You’ve been sitting in an emergency room with your elderly mother after she slipped on a patch of icy sidewalk and fell hard. You’ve been waiting for over five hours and you still haven’t seen a specialist.

Sadly, this nightmarish scenario is becoming all too common in our nation’s hospitals.

The quality of American emergency care has seen a marked drop from the mediocre score recorded by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2009.  The 2014 report has brought little hope for significant improvement. With scores continuing to dwindle throughout America's emergency rooms with the latest report ranking the nation's emergency room quality to a D+, it pays for seniors to invest in the preventative care model now.

At a glance, the standard of emergency room care throughout the United States is lacking in several areas which have the potential to adversely affect senior healthcare:

  • Access to emergency care in general
  • Public health & injury prevention
  • Quality & patient safety environment
  • Medical liability environment

It’s a rather bleak picture that puts the emergency room as the last place you want your elderly parents to receive care. Unfortunately, seniors often require emergency care for conditions that can only be treated by a hospital.

  • injuries and falls
  • chest pain and heart disease
  • abdominal pain
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • pneumonia
  • urinary tract infection
  • stroke
  • spinal or back problems

However, many of these health concerns can be prevented or dramatically reduced with proper preventative care, significantly improving wellness and wellbeing while keeping visits to the emergency room at a minimum.

Be Proactive in Senior Healthcare. Seek out Preventative Care Now.

Environment is key in a proactive preventative care plan.

Do you live in a community that encourages group activities such as hiking, water aerobics, tai chi, yoga and gaming?

There’s good news for seniors who are considering giving up the worries of home ownership and moving into a retirement community.

Balance, agility, flexibility, strength, and mental wellness all contribute to the prevention of falls and injuries, keeping you safe at home. And most retirement communities offer their residents a number of different health and wellness services.

In fact, research has found that seniors who live in active communities experience less serious health concerns than their single-home family counterparts. They're even less likely to experience mental distress that could lead to or compound other health concerns.

Will you or your loved one have access to ideal nutrition and meal planning?

An often overlooked, but central piece to preventative wellness is senior nutrition.

Many seniors may not be familiar with current nutritional guidelines or find it difficult to prepare meals for themselves. Choosing a senior living setting that will offer meals offers full-service dining can prevent and reduce many serious health concerns precipitated by malnutrition.

Combined with regular exercise, a comprehensive nutrition plan can help prevent cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, urinary tract infections and many other health concerns from sending your loved ones to the emergency room.

If an emergency arises, is alternative, non-emergency room care available?

The trained senior care professionals at a retirement community can spot health concerns before they become emergent and offer dietary and exercise supports as ideal interventions in most cases. If circumstances require immediate intervention, there may also be qualified, on-premise physicians able to assist residents immediately, reducing the need to deal with long wait times in the emergency room.

Until the nation's emergency rooms raise the bar on care, it's up to caregivers like you to discover the most ideal ways to creating a preventative lifestyle that keeps us and our loved ones healthy.

Worried about a loved one?  Download our tipsheet to decide if it's time to talk about senior care.

Bryan Reynolds

Written by: Bryan Reynolds

Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

Topics: senior healthcare, senior health programs, senior health, senior living

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