Hospital admittance might seem like a routine thing to many but for older patients it can carry additional risks. Many hospitals are now overloaded, with some patients in the hallways. There are nursing shortages and in some areas there is also a shortage of doctors, specialists included. Older patients are more vulnerable to picking up hospital viruses and infections. If a senior member of your family or an older friend is entering the hospital they will need all the support that is available.
Some of the hospital risks for older patients include:
- Multiple medical issues. As we age we are more likely to have ongoing and chronic illnesses, all of which will need to be addressed by specialists. This can be very difficult to do if there are no specialists in your area.
- Malnutrition and eating problems. More than half of those who are over the age of 65 have some type of eating problem. In most cases this has led to malnutrition which only worsens while they are in the hospital. Malnutrition leads to a very slow recovery from even the simplest operation.
- Infectious diseases. Almost all hospitals are rampant with infectious diseases such as MRSA and pneumonia. Both of these hospital acquired infections are very difficult to treat and patients are at risk after an operation.
- Delirium. Approximately one third of those who are hospitalized after the age of 65 show some signs of delirium. The percentage is higher in intensive care units. Serious illnesses, new medications and disturbed sleep are the cause of most cases of delirium in hospitals.
Older adults need an advocate when entering the hospital, especially if it is for a serious operation. Help out your loved one by bringing in their list of medications and as much of their medical history as you can. Take care of smaller items like eyeglasses and try to help them stay comfortable by surrounding them with some of their favourite items. The more relaxed a patient is, the more likely they are to respond to medications and recover from surgery. To read the full article on common hospital risks for older patients, click here.