Most of the conditions that send seniors to the ER can be managed or prevented entirely. Here are some of these most common conditions and simple, effective prevention methods to keep your senior loved one healthy.

1. Pneumonia

Each year, nearly 1 million people in the United States are hospitalized for pneumonia and a further 50,000 die from the disease. Pneumonia can go undetected for weeks, even months in seniors, because of its mild symptoms like coughing, low-grade fever and dizziness. An elderly patient may not seek treatment until the disease has wrecked serious havoc on their systems.

• Pneumonia can spread quickly and dangerously in senior care and assisted living homes. If you have a loved one in these facilities and they exhibit any of the symptoms, take them to be seen by a physician as soon as possible.

The best way to protect against pneumonia is to get vaccinated. Certain bacteria and infections can lead to pneumonia if left untreated like influenza, measles and whooping cough. Washing hands and keeping surfaces clean is also very important in protecting against infection, especially as our immune systems weaken with age.

2. Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are especially dangerous for the elderly as they can worsen symptoms of memory impairment or dementia. Some of these people may be unable to communicate how they feel so it’s important to be familiar with the symptoms. The infection can cause severe confusion, mood swings and personality changes. Here are some of the more common physical symptoms.

▪ Sharp, stabbing pain while urinating
▪ Cloudy, bloody or bad-smelling urine
▪ Mild fever
▪ Abdominal pain

UTIs can spread easily in those with impaired memory because they’re often unable to verbalize their pain. Although uncommon, the infection can spread to the bladder or kidneys and cause severe pain and even blood poisoning.

Personal hygiene can become more difficult to maintain for the elderly, especially if they have dementia. Making sure they’re taking regular showers and changing their underwear is a simple, but effective way to stop the growth of bacteria that can lead to this infection. Those at risk should also drink plenty of fluids, ensuring they urinate often.

• Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, or PACS, which stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of your bladder. Just steer clear of juice – it doesn’t contain this active ingredient by the time its reached grocery shelves. Try cranberry capsules instead, which are packed full of nutritional benefits that can prevent a UTI.

3. Chest Pain

Chest pain can be a symptom of multiple conditions including heart disease, heart attack, blood clots, respiratory infections and acute coronary syndrome. Some of these conditions are life threatening but can be treated and managed when caught early on. Chest pain is commonly misdiagnosed, especially in the elderly. If your loved one is still complaining of chest pain after visiting the ER, seek the treatment of a specialist.

Protecting against some of the diseases which cause chest pain starts with reinforcing heart-healthy habits early in life. Light exercise coupled with a nutritious diet can also lessen chances of getting heart disease or a heart attack. Genetics plays a large role in your long-term health so make sure to research your family history. This will allow you to prepare for any health complications.

The first step in preventing these infections and diseases is seeking the advice of a physician, who can recommend changes to protect your senior’s health. If a senior loved one is complaining of any of these symptoms, make sure they seek treatment as quickly as possible.

March 16, 2016
Written by Bailey Morgan
Content Writer at Nutex Health, Inc

Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. With our 24 Hour Emergency Rooms in Laredo, we can treat you promptly with our expert team of nurses and ER trained doctors.