CINCINNATI -- The United States is an aging nation. According to the National Census Bureau, current population trends point toward a rapid growth in the number of senior American citizens in the next three decades. Census researchers estimated 20 percent of all people in the United States would be over the age of 65 by 2030.
Medical professionals such as Bethesda North medical director Ken Patton are already feeling the impact of a growing elderly population, he said.
"People are living longer," Patton said. "That's causing more problems, and they're utilizing the emergency department a little bit more than they did 10-15 years ago."
That's why Bethesda North in 2015 underwent a $1.2 million renovation to make its emergency room as geriatric-friendly as possible. The new flooring is not-stick; the hospital installed new railings to prevent patients from falling; and the lighting is less harsh on the eyes, Patton said.
The influx of senior patients also meant nurses such as Maria Newsad received specialized training to help them treat senior-specific health concerns and effectively communicate with older patients.
"Their skin tears easier, they take a little longer to understand," Newsad said. "There are polypharmacy issues -- many medications. There are medicines that interact with each other, so that medication list is critical."
If you are a senior or have a senior loved one, Newsad said it can be helpful to have a complete list of medications on hand to help doctors determine the best course of care, especially in the emergency room when time is short.
The growth of the United States' elderly population will mean this sort of care only becomes more critical over time, Patton said.
"I think the community needs this," he said.