Of the 5.8 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease
, 5.6 million are age 65 or older. According to a 2009-2010 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the same demographic accounted for 15% of emergency room
visits during that period.
ER visits and hospital admissions increase with age
By 2030, one in five people will be 65 or older, according to projections from a 2010 U.S. Census Bureau report. Trips to the ER become more common as Americans age. This survey found that senior Americans made nearly 20 million visits to emergency departments during 2009-2010, and over 36% of those visits resulted in admissions.
Undoubtedly, these figures included many people with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Hospital stays are difficult for the cognitively impaired
Alzheimer’s patients may present to emergency rooms as the result of an accident, such as a slip and fall. An emergency room visit or overnight hospital stay can be particularly traumatic for those living with dementia.
In unfamiliar surroundings, a patient with cognitive impairment
may become more confused. Hospital staff and healthcare workers are not typically specialized in Alzheimer’s or dementia care. Doctors, nurses, and technicians are experts in their fields, which is invaluable to someone who is admitted for a broken leg, heart attack, pneumonia, or another acute illness. However, the same healthcare professional may be ineffective when communicating with your loved one.