I have recently seen a suggestion by someone that we should have emergency rooms for seniors. I think that is an excellent idea because the needs of us seniors are much different than that of younger patients.
What we report as being wrong will be different than what younger people will tell the doctor. Remember that older people may have cognitive problems and that affects what they tell the doctors. We need an ER area that is quiet and which doesn’t cause anxiety. The last place we like as we get older is one with young kids screaming and crying.
Most of us seniors have a lot of medical problems. As a result of all these problems, we are taking a lot of medications (I am one of those people). That alone can be causing problems that are many times worse that the medical condition for which we are taking the medications. Many of us are hard of hearing and nurses have amplifiers that they can use when working with us. Many of us have arthritis problems that cause us to have back problems. As a result, we need comfortable chairs rather than beds sometimes not just in the waiting rooms but in the ER rooms and the hospital rooms, too.
I have plenty of horror stories that I could tell you regarding my trips to the ER because I have been there so many times. I am over 70 and frequent the ER on a somewhat regular basis. My wife, who has become my main caretaker these days, is the one that is rushing me there usually in a lot of pain.
I am normally in much pain when I arrive at the ER and holding my chest or stomach area which could mean a problem with many different things. I usually check in and give the front desk my name, what I think is wrong, and some basic information for which they are asking. They then have me go sit with the general population in the very hard and uncomfortable seats that are there and the screaming kids and wait for my turn to be called by the triage nurse.
Unless that I tell them that I have chest pains, I could be left in the waiting room for literally hours. There have been times while I was waiting that I was in so much pain that I was close to getting down on the floor. Our needs are different and we normally need immediate attention.
All the time that this is going on with me, I see the Emergency Room taking in people who obviously were there because of a cold or a non-emergency reason. We all know that the ER is used by those without insurance as their free doctor’s office. This should not be happening, of course, and is another area where changes are needed.
In my opinion, we need four parts to an Emergency Room:
1. A separate ER area for seniors with special chairs; amplifiers so nurses don’t have to yell; geriatric doctors to treat seniors; quiet, calming areas to wait; more consideration for the pain that many are in.
2. An ER area for the very serious cases that come in and the real reason for the ER room.
3. A special ER room for Medicaid people who use it as a doctor’s office.
4. An area for all the rest.
Some hospitals are doing this but we need them all to provide this better care for our older people.
Written by Ted Anderson. Insurance agent Ted W. Anderson worked in sales for half a century, has lived in Albany since 1993. He is president of Dover Lane Neighborhood Watch. Send email to him at email@example.com.