While of course we’d like to imagine enjoying a Norman Rockwell-worthy holiday celebration, with all of our family members spending quality time together and Grandma’s traditional holiday feast, the reality for some families instead consists of something unexpected: an E/R visit. As a matter of fact, studies show that emergency room visits for older adults jump about 10 – 20% over the holidays.
Determining the exact reason behind this increase is tricky. One reason could be family members who haven’t been spending as much time with older relatives in the months prior to the holiday season, who then notice during the holidays that their loved one’s health condition has declined.
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.”
And, there are some common changes related to aging that can be misunderstood, leading family members to believe that an E/R visit is required.
Nonetheless, some proactive actions can be taken to prevent a holiday emergency:
- Make sure you have a list of contact information for the senior’s primary care physician and other medical specialists. Ensure the list includes all medications prescribed by each physician and any drug allergies or other concerns. Contacting the appropriate physician for his/her suggestions about your concerns is a smart first step before an emergency room visit, unless of course the older adult is going through a true emergency.
- Speak with the older adult about appointing a health care proxy, who will serve as a voice in making health decisions if your loved one is no longer able to do so. Ensure a living will is in place too.
- Check in with your loved one routinely throughout the course of the year. For family members who live far away, it’s beneficial to enlist the help of your loved one’s neighbors or close friends to stop in to see the senior routinely and to update you with any changes they detect.
Of course, if it is an actual emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 and seek the emergency medical care required immediately.
A professional home care agency, like CareFor, is the ideal solution to make certain your loved ones continue to be healthy and well, and that any changes in health condition are addressed immediately – so that the holiday season will remain as festive and enjoyable as it should be. Just a few of the many ways we can help include:
- Medication reminders
- Planning and preparing meals
- Housekeeping and laundry assistance
- And more