It might not be surprising, but the older you get, the worse the hospital can be for you. Many senior and elderly patients deteriorate physically and mentally when they’re in the hospital, even if they get over their original illness or injury. Around a third of patients over the age of 70 and over half of the patients who are over the age of 85 leave hospitals in worse condition than when they arrived.
This means that those who went into the hospital caring for themselves may not be able to do so when they are discharged. They may need extra help with daily activities as common as walking or using a bathroom, because hospitals aren’t designed to help the elderly in the same way as a younger person. For example, they may not get them out of bed enough or adequately control their pain.
Sometimes, the older patients are tethered to their beds with oxygen tanks or IV poles, making it impossible for them to get up and move around freely. Doctors might give redundant medications or prescribe unnecessary procedures because the older adult has no advocate. Some of these older adults don’t get adequate sleep, because they are placed in busy wards and are awoken when their vital signs are taken.
While younger patients can get away without as much sleep or adequate nutrition, an older person is likely to suffer from these conditions. Due to the fact that elderly patients should be treated differently, some hospitals are starting to treat them in different medical units. These units provide less in the way of treating the original diagnosis and more in the way of getting a patient back to living at home and living independently. While the original issue is treated, the staff also works to test the patient’s memory and to assess if he or she will be able to care for himself or herself at home. Patients continue to do things for themselves as much as possible. Catheters and IVs may not be used regularly to reduce the risk of infection, and patients are encouraged to eat together in a communal dining area when possible.
Hospital-borne infections and other issues make it more dangerous for older adults to stay in hospitals. If your loved one suffers an injury while he or she is an inpatient, you may have a medical malpractice case. Our website has more information.