Monday, March 14, 2011

"Generation Landslide"

I have mentioned before that I am a proud member of the first year Baby Boomer generation.  All the good young men returned from WWII and immediately went about making babies (which might not have been their intention necessarily, but it was certainly the result!) 

The first round of those post-war babies was born in 1946, and this year we will collectively turn 65 years old.  All through our lives we have had reason to think  of 65 as officially "old".  That's retirement age, Social Security age, Medicare age; all things provided to old people.  Even though we no longer accept that title unilaterally, choosing to define old as sometime down the road, like 75 or 90, the sad fact is that our bodies are sinking further into decline and there's not a whole lot we can do to stop it.  Not only that but there are 14 (or so) more years on the horizon of "Boomers" reaching 65 and becoming seniors.  That will end up with a whole LOT of "seniors". 

People are staying healthy longer and living longer, which is great if you're a Boomer, but the smart leaders of the healthcare industry are gearing up for the large influx of older patients  needing services from doctors, clinics, hospitals, hospices, emergency rooms, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and the like.  It is a serious concern and some hospitals have taken an innovative approach to handling this "Generation Landslide".

The following was taken from an Associated Press news article today.  This link will take you to the full article.   It seems to me to be an idea whose time has come!  What do you think??

[Excerpts - AP article, 03/13/11] 
WASHINGTON (AP) - Many hospitals run emergency rooms just for children. Now a few are opening ERs specially designed for seniors, without all the confusion and clamor and with a little more comfort.....

Modern ERs are best equipped to handle crises like gunshot wounds or car crashes, not the lengthy detective work it can take to unravel the multiple ailments that older people tend to show up with....
.....They're less likely to report chest pain with a heart attack, for instance, complaining instead of vague symptoms such as dizziness or nausea. Urinary tract infections sometimes cause enough confusion to be mistaken for dementia.

Seniors already make 17 million ER visits a year, and 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older by 2030....
The idea behind senior ERs: Put older patients in an area that's a bit calmer for team-based care to not just treat the problem that brought them to the hospital, but to uncover underlying problems - from depression to dementia to a home full of tripping hazards that might bring them back....
How does it work? Seniors still enter through the main ER, where triage nurses decide if they have an immediately life-threatening condition. Those patients stay in the regular ER with all its bells and whistles. But other seniors get the option of heading for these new special zones.....  
  • There, doors instead of curtains separate beds, tamping down the noise that can increase anxiety, confusion and difficulty communicating....
  • Nurses carry "pocket talkers," small amplifiers that hook to headphones so they don't have to yell if a patient's hard of hearing. 
  • Mattresses are thicker, and patients who don't need to lay flat can opt for cushy reclining chairs instead; Moccia says people feel better when they can stay upright.
  • Nonskid floors guard against falls.
  • Forms are printed in larger type, to help patients read their care instructions when it's time to go home.
  • Pharmacists automatically check if patients' routine medications could cause dangerous interactions.
  • A geriatric social worker is on hand to arrange for Meals on Wheels or other resources.
  • .....the real change comes because nurses and doctors undergo training to dig deeper into patients' lives. While they're awaiting test results or treatments, every senior gets checked for signs of depression, dementia or delirium....
Nobody wants to get old, and nobody especially wants to get old and be sick.  If there was an ER geared to the needs and fears of the elderly (they're even older than the old!  We're no where near elderly! ....denial, denial....but I digress).  Anyway, if there were ER facilities like this available to our aging population both dedicated and committed to providing the right care for the oncoming generation landslide, it would be a benefit to all of us!!  I'm all in favor of the whole idea!  I hope it catches on!


  1. This sounds good. I,too, hope it catches on. The last time I was in the ER was for chest pains which turned out to be an anxiety attack, but I was scared, confused and totally ill at ease. The staff there was wonderful and quick-thinking, but the DR. on call was a total asshat and had the bedside manner of a gnat!

  2. Wow, I think that's a GREAT idea. The adjustments they've made are so practical.

  3. Mellodee... it would be dreamy!!!!

  4. So, have you gotten your little package from Medicare yet? Just got mine, along with about 100 letters from insurance companies wanting to sell me supplemental. Ah, the golden years.....


Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's really nice knowing what you think!! Besides, comments keep me from feeling like I'm here all by myself!! :)

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