Recently, I sat in the emergency room with a patient at one of our local hospitals. As we sat and waited for a doctor, I could not help but notice that most of the other people waiting were seniors. I thought this was a bit odd. Where were the screaming babies? Where were the people with alcohol and drug disorders, sprains, broken bones and fevers?
Not being a person who is shy, I asked one of the in-take personnel about this. I was a bit taken back with the response. It appears that it is with great frequency that seniors visit the ER after the physician offices close.
With a little research, I found out that this is not unique to this hospital. It seems many hospitals encounter such a high rate of senior visits that senior specific emergency rooms are being developed with great frequency. In Denver, Exempla Lutheran hospital was the first to open a senior-specific ER. Now their sister hospitals, St. Joseph and Good Samaritan, have added dedicated ER space for senior patients.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ER VISIT
If the time comes that you find yourself having to take a senior loved one to the ER, here are some tips on how to best make sure that they receive the best possible outcome:
• Meet with your parent’s doctor and the hospital staff. Get to know all the staff responsible for caring for your parent.
• Find out every test and procedure to be done. Ask why specific tests have been ordered and what those results are.
• Get a list of all your parent’s medications. Know what they are, what they are for and their interaction with each other. Complications from medication errors are one of the most common reasons for seniors visiting the ER.
• Research your parent’s condition. In today’s world with such easy access to the Internet, finding out detailed information about specific medical conditions should be relatively simple.
• Meet with the surgeon and anesthesiologist who will be working on your loved one before any surgery. Make sure you know how the surgery is projected to go.
• Watch for any warning signs that your parent’s condition may be changing.
Monitor your parent for any changes in attitude, complaints, etc., and bring those issues up with the medical staff immediately.
ATTEND UPCOMING SYMPOSIUM
With so much of our nation’s population becoming seniors during the next few years, it is likely that many of us will be assisting our parents and loved ones with their medical, personal and financial issues. You don’t have to stumble through this process without the necessary education. Learning on the fly can be exhausting and cause great anxiety.
On Thursday at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, there will be a symposium where you can learn about helping your loved ones with not only their medical concerns but with estate and financial planning as well. The purpose of this symposium is to provide Eagle County residents with education and resources to guide them through this complex topic.
• Where: Battle Mountain High School.
• When: Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Cost: Free and open to the public.
Please take advantage of this exceptional event, and remember to RSVP! We hope to see you there. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP at www.wshc.net so that we may ensure adequate seating, food and beverages.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.