There are millions of hospitalizations of seniors each year, in fact, they generally account for one-third of all hospitalizations in the United States. While some of these may be minor injuries, a lot of them can be serious chronic illnesses or ailments that may even be life-threatening.
Unfortunately, many of these issues that lead to hospitalization can cause seniors to struggle with independent living and perform day-to-day tasks.
If you have a loved one who is older, it can be a good idea to learn more about the common problems that lead to hospitalizations. Most hospitalizations for seniors are related to circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or nervous system disorders.
Circulatory disorders are conditions that affect the heart, they can include diseased blood vessels, structural problems, and blood clots. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, circulatory disorders account for about 28 percent of all hospital stays for individuals aged 65 and older.
Congestive Heart Failure — Congestive heart failure is one of the most common conditions primarily responsible for the hospitalization of seniors. This issue generally occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood as it should.
Cardiac Arrhythmias — Cardiac arrhythmia is a problem that impacts the rate or rhythm of a heartbeat. Arrhythmia can cause the heart to beat too fast or too slowly or with an irregular rhythm. Arrhythmia is caused by changes in heart tissue or in electrical signals that control your heartbeat.
Respiratory disorders are serious and can even be life-threatening as they are conditions that affect the lungs. Respiratory disorders are the second most common category of conditions that lead to hospitalization in the elderly, making up nearly 15 of hospitalizations. A couple of respiratory conditions that affect seniors include:
Pneumonia — Pneumonia is a serious infection that inflames the air cavities in the lungs. The issue causes the lungs to be filled with fluid or pus and can lead to fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. Bacteria is the main cause of pneumonia but it can also occur from viruses and fungi. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of hospitalization and has a high mortality rate as it can lead to other organ problems for seniors.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) — Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow in the lungs. It can lead to a number of symptoms including difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and more. It can be caused by several different things, most notably cigarette smoke. Bronchitis is one form of COPD, it is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that are used to carry air to the lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus.
As the name suggests, musculoskeletal disorders are conditions in the body that directly affect the muscles or bones. Musculoskeletal conditions make up over 10 percent of hospitalizations among senior citizens. A few common musculoskeletal problems include:
Fractures — Fractures and bone breaks, especially in the hip, are incredibly common among older adults. In fact, over 300,000 people are hospitalized for hip fractures each year according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These injuries generally occur from falls. Unfortunately, after these dangerous falls, many people are unable to live on their own again. Falls are one of the most common forms of injury in the elderly population and, sadly, seniors who fall once are twice as likely to experience another fall.
Osteoarthritis — Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that most frequently affects the hands, hips, and knees. Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage in a joint will begin to break down and the underlying bone starts to change. These changes will usually occur over a long period of time and can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. For some, it can cause reduced function and disability and some may no longer be able to perform daily tasks.
Nervous System Disorders
The nervous system is incredibly important for body function and, unfortunately, nervous system disorders make up about 8 percent of all hospitalizations among older adults.
Dementia — As you age, the brain and the nervous system will go through a number of changes, but dementia is a severe memory loss that is not a normal part of aging. One of the most common forms of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is a blanket term to refer to a group of systems related to thought, memory, and cognitive functioning. Currently, there is no cure for any form of dementia, only medication and treatment that can help reduce the impact of the symptoms.
Most of these disorders, whether they are circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or nervous system disorders, can make it difficult for seniors to live on their own. Many of these can make it even physically impossible for your loved one to live on their own. If this is the case, it may be best to enlist the help of a caregiver or an assisted living facility.
Older adults make up a large portion of annual senior hospitalization, mostly due to circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or nervous system disorders. These problems are obviously very serious and can even turn life-threatening. They will likely lead to your loved one is unable to perform day-to-day tasks and require the help of a caregiver or assisted living facility.
Landmark Senior Living is one facility that can provide your loved one with the services and activities to keep them healthy and happy during their stay with Landmark. Our staff is knowledgeable and can give your loved one the quality care that they need. Our facilities also can provide patients with access to memory care services to help anyone dealing with Alzheimer’s or a dementia-related illness. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark is and how we can help, please visit our website and schedule a complimentary tour of one of our senior living facilities in New Mexico.