Most people visit the ER to get well from being quite sick. Either they have become ill or hurt suddenly and head right to the ER or if they have called their doctor and were told to go to the Emergency Room. There’s new research claiming not so fast with the elderly heading to the emergency room.
The findings of a new Canadian study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal today claims that elderly patients who have visited an emergency department are three times more likely to develop respiratory or gastrointestinal infections in the week following their return to a long-term care facility. They found there is a benefit for isolating the patients once they return to their facility. The study was conducted for 2 years in Canada during non-summer months (September through May) involving 1269 patients.
The seniors who went to an emergency department had a higher rate of chronic illnesses and tended to be less independent than those who did not go to an emergency department.
Our immune system may not work as effectively as we get older, which increases our risk even more for infections. This “winding down” of the immune system is a major reason why infections become more common as we age. Specific types of immune cells are less able to produce the antibodies needed to fight off infections.
Having other illnesses or disorders probably has the greatest effect on the body’s natural ability to fight infections too. Fever is the most common sign of an illness in the elderly. Not all seniors will have a fever but an infection will appear as a rapid loss of function for no apparent reason like falling or just not eating well. They may not be able to communicate well at this point either. Anytime you see a senior that is just not their “regular self” is a good time to take them to their doctor for a check-up.