Are Older TBI Patients at Risk in the Hospital?

Posted on January 20, 2022

Hospital staff wants the very best medical care for your older loved one, but they are under tremendous pressure. Elderly

patients desperately need your help because hospital risks are at an all-time high. Even a short stay can be with medical errors, medication mistakes, falls, infectious diseases, and a host of other life-threatening events for the elderly in the hospital.

Enter the patient advocate. Monitor old patients' medical care and provide support during a hospital stay to minimize hospital risks as a family member or good friend.

Hospital Risks for Elderly TBI victims: How To Be An Advocate For Your Spouse, Parent, Grandparent, or Other Older Loved One.

Delirium occurs in 1/3 of hospitalized persons over 65 and more than 70% of elderly patients in ICU. Reasons for this include exposure to new medications, sleep disturbance, serious illness, and disruption of regular routines. Family members are mostly the first to see changes that may indicate restlessness.

Older people may have multiple medical issues, requiring several specialists to be involved in his case. When an older adult cannot reposition, he is at risk for pressure ulcers (bed sores). Older patients may already be taking numerous medications, leading to adverse effects. New drugs may be prescribed, which can lead to side effects.

The main cause of injury and death among older adults is falling. If they are sedated or disoriented, older adults are at risk for falls. They can also be at risk for malnutrition. The nutritional status of elderly patients has been reported to diminish in hospitals. This can slow recovery.

Infectious diseases such as pneumonia and MRSA are common in hospitals. Pneumonia acquired in the hospital is more serious due to the more aggressive infecting organisms, making it harder to treat.

What A Patient Advocate Can Do

Have The Patient's Medical History. Bring in your loved one's complete medical records, including medication such as over-the-counter drugs and any herbs and supplements taken. Include any allergies to medicines.

Bring eyeglasses and Hearing Aids: Ensure your loved one has these essentials handy to hear and see better and what is happening.

Make the patient's hospital room feel like home: Older patients do better in the hospital if their routines and sense of familiarity are preserved. A cozy blanket, photos of family and friends, their address book should they want to contact loved ones, books, newspapers, etc.

Practice Bed Sore Prevention. Monitor how many times a patient's body is turned to prevent pressure ulcers if he cannot reposition himself in bed. Ask the patient's nurse-in-charge to help you. 

Meet The Doctors: Make sure to be present during doctors' rounds to have face-to-face interactions. Create a list of questions with your loved one's physicians ahead of time and document the answers in a notebook.

Be aware of behavior and mood changes in your loved one, such as confusion, drowsiness, apathy, hallucinations, little or no speech or movement, or agitation. If you notice any of these sudden changes, be sure to bring it to the attention of the patient's health care team and ask for an evaluation.

Monitor Meals: Monitor dietary restrictions to ensure the patient receives meals the doctor has ordered. Hospital staff may be too quick to take away meal trays before the patient has had the time or the inclination to eat. You can also bring home cooked food but check with the patient's nutritionist first.

Prevent falls: If your elderly parent is at risk for falling, be at the bedside at all times. You can create a family sponsor team with other loved ones taking shifts. 

Prevent diseases in the hospital:  Ask everyone to use anti-bacterial gel by the patient's bed. Try to get your elderly loved one into a private hospital room; this considerably cuts down the cross-contamination of diseases.