Avoid a Hospital Visit for the Seniors You Love This Holiday Season With These Tips
While we may envision a Norman Rockwell-worthy Thanksgiving celebration, with the whole family enjoying quality time together and Grandma’s traditional feast, the reality for many families includes something unexpected: a hospital visit. In fact, statistics show that E/R visits for the elderly jump an astounding 10 – 20% during the holidays.
While pinpointing the exact reasoning behind this increase is difficult, it stands to reason that one factor could be family members who haven’t spent time with an elderly relative in the months prior to the holiday season, only to discover then that his or her condition has deteriorated.
Dr. Tamara Kuittinen of Lenox Hill Hospital explains, “It’s an issue of out of sight, out of mind for many people. If you haven’t seen your mom in six months, you may not be fully aware of the aging process and her health in general.”
Additionally, there are some typical changes related to aging that can be misinterpreted, leading family members to believe that an emergency room visit is warranted.
There are several proactive steps that families can take to avoid a holiday emergency:
- Document key contact information for the senior’s primary care physician and other specialists. Include all medications prescribed by each doctor and any drug allergies or other concerns. Contacting the appropriate physician for advice about your concerns is a good first step over an E/R visit, unless the senior is experiencing a true emergency.
- Talk with your loved one about assigning a health care proxy, who can serve as a voice in making health decisions if the senior is unable to do so. Ensure a living will is also in place.
- Check in with the senior routinely throughout the year. For families who live at a distance, it can be helpful to enlist the assistance of your loved one’s neighbors or close friends to visit with the senior regularly and to keep you updated with any changes they notice.
Naturally, if it is a true emergency, you should never hesitate to call 911 and seek the emergency medical care needed as soon as possible.
A professional in-home care agency, like Hired Hands Homecare, is the perfect year-round solution to ensure seniors remain healthy and well, and that any changes in condition are addressed immediately – ensuring the holiday season remains as festive and enjoyable as it should be. Just a few of the many ways we can help include:
- Medication reminders, to ensure prescriptions are taken exactly as advised
- Preparing healthy, nutritious meals
- Engaging seniors in physician-approved exercise programs
- Providing friendly companionship to ward off loneliness
- And many others