More than a third of patients admitted to hospitals are elderly. At any given time, almost half of the patients in a hospital are over 65 years old. Nearly half of the elderly seen in the emergency department are admitted to the hospital.
When many older people leave the hospital, they may be worse than before they get sick. Part of the reason for this worsening is that older people often have severe and debilitating illnesses when admitted to the hospital.
Yet another reason is simply that staying in the hospital can cause problems, regardless of age. Older people are more likely to have these problems previously or develop them, and even more likely that the consequences are severe for the following reasons:
- Confusion: Changes will make these people more likely to have sudden and severe confusion (delusions) as they age.
- Dehydration: Old age people get thirsty less compare to younger people. Because of that reason, they drink less water, mainly when circumstances make it harder to find water, such as in a hospital.
- Incontinence: Old age people may have demanding complexity getting out of a hard bed after undergo their treatment. As a result, they may not go to the bathroom on regular interval of time.
- Loss of liberty: at the time of stay in a hospital, old age people may not able to care for themselves as healthcare personnel offer them with all the care.
- Loss of muscle tissue: old age people, when they use a lot of time in bed or powerless, be apt to lose more muscle tissue and more rapidly than younger people.
- Pressure ulcers: The elderly are prone to developing pressure ulcers (bedsores), as they tend to have less fat under the skin, and blood flow to the skin is more minor. If bedsores appear after discharge from the hospital, they may need to be transferred to a nursing home rather than their own home.
- Side Effects of Drugs: Before admission to the hospital, many older people are on various drugs. More medications can be prescribed in the hospital. The more medicines you take, the more likely you are to have side effects and drug interactions. Also, the elderly are more sensitive to the effects of certain drugs.
Many older adults have difficulty recovering psychologically and physically from the experience of being admitted to a hospital, as well as from being ill.
Aggression when treating illness in the hospital should not depend on age. Hospitalized older people and their families should talk with their doctor to make sure treatment options are based on the severity of the illness, not age.
Spectrum Health Care has developed protocols to prevent problems that can occur when the elderly are hospitalized. These strategies are designed to help older people get on with their activity and did before they got sick.
A multidisciplinary team: this team comprises health professionals who work together to care for the elderly. The team members assess the patient’s needs and coordinate their care in the hospital and look for possible problems to correct or prevent them.
A team with a single focus of attention: This team focuses on preventing and managing a specific problem, such as malnutrition or pressure ulcers. These teams are usually led by a nurse who verifies if the hospitalized older adult has the particular situation and develops a care plan.
- The geriatrician: this doctor has specific training to care for the elderly and help prevent common problems. For example, avoid prescribing drugs that can cause problems.
- Protocols: Hospitals may also follow guidelines of care (protocols) developed specifically for older people.
- Nurse – Sometimes, the primary responsibility for overseeing patient care is the nurse, who must ensure that another staff understands the treatment plan.
- Geriatric nursing unit: this type of unit is designed to care for hospitalized elderly people and has personnel specifically trained in this matter. It encourages the elderly to get out of bed as soon as possible and for as long as possible.
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