Why Holidays for Older Adults Lead to More ER Visits – And How You Can Help

senior man eating in a hospital bed
Holidays for older adults may lead to an E/R visit.

While of course we would love to imagine enjoying a Norman Rockwell-worthy holiday get-together, with all of our family members spending quality time together and Mom’s traditional holiday feast, the reality for some families instead consists of something unexpected: an emergency room visit during the holidays for older adults. In fact, studies show that ER visits for older adults rise around 10 – 20% during the holiday season.

While determining the specific reason behind this increase is difficult, one aspect could be family members who have not been spending as much time with an older relative in the months leading up to the holiday season who discover that the person’s health condition has declined since the last time.

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 typical changes related to aging that might be misunderstood, causing family members to think that an ER visit is appropriate.

There are, however, some proactive measures that can be taken to prevent a holiday emergency:

  • Make sure you have a list of contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician and any other medical specialists. Ensure the list includes all medications prescribed by each physician and any medication allergies or other concerns. Contacting the appropriate doctor for his or her suggestions about your concerns is a good first step before an emergency room visit, unless the older person is going through a true emergency.
  • Have a discussion with the older person about designating a health care proxy, who will serve as a voice in making health decisions if your loved one is not able to do so. Make certain a living will is in place as well.
  • Check in with your senior loved one on a regular basis throughout the course of the year. For family members who live at a distance, it’s beneficial to solicit the assistance of the senior’s neighbors or close friends to visit the senior frequently and to keep you updated with any changes they pick up on.

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 Heaven at Home Senior Care, is the perfect solution to ensure your loved ones continue to remain healthy and well, and that any changes in health condition are dealt with right away – so the holidays will remain as festive and enjoyable as they should be. Just some of the many ways we can help include:

  • Medication reminders
  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • And many others

Contact Heaven at Home Senior Care, one of the top home health agencies in Frisco, TX and surrounding areas, at 940-380-0500 to request a free in-home evaluation to learn more about our personalized home care services and to find out if our services are available in your area.