How to Find a Senior Friendly ER
A trip to the emergency room is not one anyone looks forward to. Rushing or being rushed to FrontLine ER means that you have a medical condition that requires immediate medical assistance. For the elderly, a visit to the ER is even more hectic, especially because they face a number of potentially fatal medical conditions and may routinely be under several medications. Because ER’s tend to be unpredictable, and sometimes crowded, senior patients may not immediate medical assistance. This could lead to the development of delirium- a condition where patients are unable to think and remember clearly.
Fortunately, the future of emergency rooms is getting better, thanks to the recognition and introduction of senior-friendly ERs. More specialized senior ERs are coming up, and existing emergency rooms have also set up wings to cater to the elderly. This move will provide much needed geriatric emergency care, and also reduce crowding in ERs.
If you are an older person, or a caregiver to an older adult, it is important to know what a ‘senior-friendly’ is, and what to expect from it. In case you are on the hunt for a senior’s ER, here are five questions that Frontline ER suggests you ask.
Is There Specialized ER Staff Trained in The Provision of Care to The Elderly?
A senior friendly ER should be staffed with Geriatricians- doctors further trained in the caring for older people. Other members of the staff such as nurses, physician assistants and therapists should also have advanced training in the provision of care for elderly patients. These professionals are important because older people respond to illnesses, treatments, and medications differently than younger people. Geriatricians and other trained professionals can identify crucial differences, and also know the best course of action to take when emergencies occur.
Is There Anyone in The ER You Can Speak to About Advance Directives?
Advanced directives are legal papers that describe the kind of end-of-life care a person can and cannot have. Since it is a legal issue, it should be carefully considered since any deviation could result in civil action. For example, in an advanced directive, a senior patent could state that if anything should happen, that they should not be kept alive with a respirator. In such a case, even if the patient is rushed to the ER and cannot breathe on their own, the ER staff is legally bound to let the patient pass on.
How Can You Make Triage Less Stressful for Older People?
Triage is a standard system in hospital for collecting vitals and deciding which patient gets treated first. Because ERs are often busy and may require waiting, they are unsuitable for older patients. As a result of long waits, older patients can develop delirium, making it even harder to conduct triage. Ask if the ER can move older patients to quieter rooms if they have to wait, and ask if any measures are taken to make triage less stressful for older patients.
Ask About “Transition of Care” In the ER
An emergency room is usually divided into several departments for easier service provision. Sometimes, when you are rushed to the ER, you may be transferred to different departments before you are released, and with each transfer, you are handed over to a different healthcare provider. However, a specialized senior ER makes an effort to minimize transfers to reduce the chances of administering inappropriate medication. If the emergency room is senior friendly, the staff will understand your questions and respond appropriately.
Does the ER use medication reconciliation and Full Pharmacy Reviews?
These are medical practices used to lower the chances of an older person receiving incorrect medication, or the wrong dosages. Medication errors are some of the most common errors, and naturally, you do not want your loved one becoming a victim of mistakes. These reviews involve making a list of a patient’s medications and then comparing that list to the one in the patient’s records. A pharmacy review involves making a complete and correct list of all the medications a patient should be taking when they are moved from one facility to another. For example, when the patient is moved from Frontline ER to a special home, or to a hospital.
What Should You Look Out for?
Senior-friendly emergency rooms are designed for the comfort and care of older patients. Some of the things you should look out for include:
- Handrails: The ER should have handrails along the walls to support the elderly as they walk along the corridors.
- Appropriate Wall Treatments and lighting: The walls should be light-colored, and surfaces should be non-shiny to reduce glare. The glare can make it harder for seniors to see the edges of pale-colored surfaces. Also, highly contrasting colors can cause dizziness. The lighting is achieved indirectly to avoid too much brightness and glare.
- Special Reclining chairs to help older people feel comfortable during the examination.
- Warming blankets to help older people warm up if they get too cold.
To get more information on senior-friendly ERs, visit Frontline ER today.