A trip to the Emergency Room (ER) can be difficult at any age. ERs can be loud, crowded, full of commotion, and frankly, a bit overwhelming for an older adult.
Fortunately, hospitals are beginning to take important and necessary steps to improve older people’s emergency room experiences. Below are five things that emergency rooms can do to better assist older adults.
- Install handrails. These help older people avoid falling while standing or walking.
- Improve lighting. Exposure to natural light and windows can help with recovery in the ER and may prevent or ease delirium, a state of sudden mental confusion that can occur in older people in the ER or hospital.
- Provide reclining examination chairs. These are more comfortable than standard exam chairs. Reclining examination chairs can also be easier for older people to sit in, and get up from, compared to standing examination chairs.
- Use warming blankets. Warming blankets or other devices help older people warm up if they are too cold. Older adults tend to have more difficulty staying warm than younger people do.
- Offer bedside commodes. For some older adults, using a standard toilet—or simply walking to the bathroom—can be difficult and may lead to falls. Bedside commodes, which look like a cross between a chair and a toilet, can help.
For more information, including five questions to ask your local Emergency Room about their approach to emergency care for older adults, be sure to read the AGS Health in Aging Foundation’s latest tip sheet: Ten Things to Look For in a Senior-Friendly Emergency Room.