Although naturally we would like to visualize enjoying a Norman Rockwell-worthy holiday gathering, with all of our loved ones spending quality time together and mom’s traditional holiday feast, the reality for countless families instead consists of something unanticipated: an E/R visit. In fact, research reveals that senior visits to the emergency room increase as much as 10 – 20% through the holiday season.
Though establishing the specific cause behind this increase is challenging, one reason could be family members who haven’t spent as much time with an elderly relative in the weeks or months leading up to the holiday season, only to discover during holiday visits (even virtual video visits) that his/her health condition has deteriorated.
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.”
On top of that, there are some typical changes related to aging that can be misconstrued, causing family members to think that an E/R visit is necessary.
There are, nonetheless, some proactive steps that can be taken to prevent a holiday emergency:
- Maintain a list of contact information for your loved one’s primary care physician and any other medical specialists. Make sure the list contains all medications prescribed by each doctor and any drug allergies or other issues. Contacting the appropriate physician for his or her suggestions about your concerns is a great first step before an emergency room visit, unless the older adult is going through a true emergency.
- Have a conversation with the older adult 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 sure a living will is in place also.
- Check in with your loved one on a regular basis 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 visit the senior on a regular basis 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 Complete Care at Home, is the ideal solution to make sure your loved ones stay healthy and well. Our professional companion care in Montecito can ensure any changes in health condition are dealt with immediately – so the holiday season will be as festive and enjoyable as it should be. Just some of the many ways we can help include:
- Medication reminders
- Planning and preparing meals
- Housework and laundry assistance
- And many more