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Why Hospitals Can Be Hazardous for Older Adults

Hazards of hospitalization for the elderly

Hazards of Hospitalization for the Elderly

Emergency room visits can be hazardous for the elderly who unintentionally provide inaccurate health information resulting in misdiagnosis and harm.

Accurate Physician diagnoses rely on information provided by patients and family. Adults who are proactive about health fare better in receiving timely and accurate medical treatment.”
— Pamela D Wilson

GOLDEN, CO, USA, January 22, 2021 / -- Caregiving expert Pamela D Wilson shares professional experience and research about the Hazards of Hospitalization of the Elderly in a recent Caring for Aging Parents blog post. Hospitalizations occur from unexpected situations, neglect of health concerns, and lack of education about health conditions.

Good health can be a fleeting experience. A significant change in health that results in a hospital emergency room visit for adults can be an unsettling experience. Patients who don’t understand the importance of providing medical staff with accurate and honest information may place their health at further peril.

Doctors can appear to be miracle workers when patients recover. But what happens when a patient does not provide enough information and misdiagnoses or a medical error occurs? Research and statistics available in Wilson’s blog post from Coverys and the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality confirm the risk and effects of misdiagnoses.

Emergency care is constrained by the fast pace of hospital emergency rooms, stress experienced by staff, the severity of medical conditions, and not enough information from patients. Add to this the complication of treating an elderly patient with dementia who cannot respond to questions with reliable information. The risks grow for the patient and the doctor.

In other situations, hospitalized adults may not know what information is important to relay to the doctor. Wilson is a caregiving expert and advocate who creates courses, webinars, and education for consumer groups, corporations, caregivers, and aging adults about learning from health and caregiving experiences.

In the twenty years, she served as a care manager, court-appointed guardian, and medical power of attorney for elderly clients and the disabled, Wilson acquired in-depth knowledge of how healthcare hazards occur and insights into caring for aging parents. Many times, “time” becomes an issue for doctors and caregivers.

A doctor prescribes a medication for an elderly patient without consulting family about history or side effects and an allergic reaction happens. A medication is discontinued without consulting family and a stroke occurs. Medication issues are significant in the elderly who have multiple chronic conditions.

Patients don't know the questions to ask about a health diagnosis or medications so following through with medical recommendations is not seen as a priority. Health continues to decline. Consumers fail to connect poor health with a commitment to change health habits that may or may not have been mentioned by a time-pressured physician.

For caregivers daily monitoring of health and chronic diseases of the elderly is critical to avoiding hospital emergency room visits. Wilson instituted care plans and change of condition warnings for the care of clients for whom she supervised care. Missing these small details is the reason that caregivers feel exhausted by managing the up and down health of elderly parents. Simple actions combined with a commitment by elderly parents can significantly improve care situations and reduce stress for the caregiver and aging adult.

Wilson's online caregiving course in a webinar format, Stay at Home: Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Home, provides insights, daily systems, and processes that she used to manage care for the elderly. These practical and common-sense steps can be used by caregivers worldwide to help aging parents maintain independence and minimize hospital emergency room visits.

A visit to the emergency room can be mentally confusing for an elderly person. Add to mental confusion, hospital admission, and lying-in bed for three or more days that results in significant physical weakness. Many elderly discharge from the hospital more mentally confused and physically weaker. Mental disorientation and physical weakness increase the likelihood of a follow-up hospital admission if preventative steps are not taken.

To avoid the hazards of hospitalization of the elderly, daily attention and self-care is necessary. While medical systems may be different, commonalities among health and daily functions exist. Navigating the healthcare system requires skills like communication, documentation, follow-up, collaboration and teamwork that are universal skills.

Wilson’s goal of helping the elderly stay at home and remain independent offers hope, help, and support for aging adults and their caregivers. To learn more about caring for elderly parents, check out Wilson’s online caregiving course: Stay at Home Taking Care of Elderly Parents at Home and Beyond. Information is on her website at or by completing the "contact me" form on Wilson's website.

P Dombrowski-Wilson
Pamela D. Wilson, Inc.
+1 303-810-1816
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Why Hospitals Aren't the Best Place for Older Adults

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