The Most Common Conditions Seniors Face in Residential Care Settings
Running an assisted living facility is hard work. Besides daily operational tasks—like managing personnel, navigating transitional care, and dealing with insurances—you’re also tasked with the essential job of caring for the physical and mental wellness of all your residents at once. Arming yourself with knowledge about the most common conditions that older adults face in residential care settings can help better prepare you to provide for your residents on a more holistic basis. Here are a few of the most common issues your residents will face, including things that older adults frequently need urgent medical attention for:
Alzheimer’s & Dementia
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that a whopping 42% of residents surveyed had Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These conditions can make it difficult for residents to get the medical care they need. Consider how treatment for a simple UTI, for example, can cause a greater and more upsetting disruption for a resident with dementia than a resident without it. For residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, strategic care planning and person-centered care make all the difference in their quality of life.
The CDC also reported that 34% of assisted living facility residents surveyed had heart disease, commonly experienced as congestive heart failure (CHF). You’re probably already taking steps at your residential care setting to reduce heart disease rates and manage CHF exacerbations among residents, but if not, consider implementing heart-healthy meal plans, encouraging regular physical exercise, and offering mental health support to help reduce stress.
The risk of stroke goes up as you age, making seniors more susceptible to stroke than younger people. So, as a leader of a residential care setting, you need to be aware of the impact that post-stroke effects can have on your residents. For instance, did you know that stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors ages 65 and older? Paired with potential effects on cognitive abilities and speech, this can present challenges in coordinating care for your residents.
COPD, a group of respiratory diseases that older adults often face, is also prevalent among assisted living facility residents. Eleven percent of respondents in the CDC survey cited above reported dealing with COPD, the exacerbations of which can be stressful and disruptive. In addition to COPD, elderly residents are also prone to developing pneumonia. This is due in large part to weakened immune systems and other comorbidities that increase the risk of developing this condition.
Along with these major conditions that elderly residents commonly face, here is a list of other conditions to keep your eye out for:
While these might not seem like serious problems at first glance, you as an assisted living facility leader know otherwise. Seniors are indeed at higher risk of developing severe complications from these conditions than other populations might be. Diarrhea, for instance, can lead to dehydration, which can have disastrous effects for seniors in particular. For example, dehydration can lead to kidney problems, seizures, and even hypovolemic shock. And aside from the risk factor of diarrhea, seniors are at greater risk of dehydration given the fact that their sense of thirst naturally decreases in old age.
UTIs can also pose a problem because many seniors don’t present with genitourinary symptoms, making diagnosis more difficult. And if left untreated, UTIs can lead to permanent kidney damage. Similarly, untreated skin infections—like cellulitis—can also have disastrous consequences by spreading to the lymph nodes and/or bloodstream.
Long story short? Even something that might appear lower on the severity scale can become more serious for older adults. And that’s essential knowledge for an assisted living facility leader charged with their care.
How DispatchHealth Can Help
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. DispatchHealth is here to provide affordable care for many of the conditions mentioned in this article, including pneumonia, UTIs, and both COPD and CHF exacerbations. We offer convenient, at-home, same-day care that won’t disrupt the lives of residents with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. We provide personalized care for simple to complex illnesses in partnership with your residents’ primary care doctors and the rest of their care team.
For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.
DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.
Sources referenced in this article: