Emergency Rooms Designed for Seniors

The elderly population is rapidly growing and seniors, with specific health care needs, may not be aware there are emergency rooms tailored to geriatric care popping up in hospitals across the United States.

Seniors will find a quieter environment in emergency departments designed for patients over 65;  rooms are private, clocks are larger and easy-to-read, mattresses may be thicker and lighting is softer.

At St. Joseph Mercy in Michigan, even the floors are different, sealed with a non-glossy finish to avoid the perception of being slippery.   The whole concept is to create a calming environment for older adults while staffing the department with trained personnel.  Specialized staff might include a pharmacist to handle common drug interactions or a social worker to help facilitate a successful return to home by making sure all the necessary supports are in place, including a means of filling prescriptions.

Designed with elders in mind, many senior ERs also use high contrast black and white to help older eyes detect steps and other obstacles.  Most trips by seniors to hospital are related to chronic illness and it can take time and patience to treat these problems, two qualities lacking from most standard ERs.

Many of those who enter a hospital emergency rooms are over 65 and by 2030, older adults will comprise an increasing share of emergency room patients.  To meet this growing need,  more doctors are slowly being trained in geriatric emergency care but for many it can’t some soon enough.

To read more about emergency rooms for the elderly visit The New York Times Blog, The New Old Age at http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/hospitals-building-emergency-rooms-for-the-elderly/?_r=0 .