While we would like to picture enjoying a Norman Rockwell-worthy holiday gathering, with all of our family members spending quality time together and mom’s traditional holiday feast, the reality for some families instead features something unanticipated: an emergency room visit. As a matter of fact, research reveals that E/R visits for seniors jump around 10 – 20% during the holiday season.
Although uncovering the specific reason behind this link between E/R visits for seniors and the holidays is difficult, one factor could be family members who haven’t been spending as much time with an older relative in the weeks leading up to the holiday season, only to find during holiday visiting (even virtual video visits) that his or her condition has declined.
Dr. Tamara Kuittinen of Lenox Hill Hospital reports, “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.”
On top of that, there are some typical changes related to aging that could be misunderstood, causing family members to believe that an emergency room visit is necessary.
There are, nevertheless, some proactive measures that can be taken to protect against a holiday emergency:
- Maintain a list of contact information for the senior’s primary care physician and any other medical specialists. Ensure the list includes all medications prescribed by each doctor and any medication allergies or other issues. Contacting the appropriate medical professional for his/her recommendations about your concerns is a smart first step prior to an E/R visit, unless the senior is encountering a true emergency.
- Have a discussion with the older adult about designating a health care proxy, who will be able to make health decisions if your loved one is unable to do so. Make certain a living will is in place as well.
- Check in with the older adult routinely during the course of the year. For family members who live far away, it’s beneficial to recruit the assistance of your loved one’s neighbors or close friends to stop in to see the senior regularly and to keep you updated with any changes they detect.
Needless to say, if it is an actual emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 and seek the emergency medical care needed immediately.
A professional home care agency, like Endeavor In-Home Care, the top provider of in home senior care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, is the ideal solution to make sure your loved ones continue to remain healthy and well, and that any changes in health conditions are addressed immediately – so that the holiday season will be as festive and enjoyable as it should be. Just several of the many ways we can help include:
- Medication reminders
- Planning and preparing meals
- Housework and laundry
- And many more