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Elderly Less Likely to Receive Timely Care for Spine Injury

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

One out of three seniors over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, and many of these accidents result in injuries to the spine. However, a recent Canadian study indicates that seniors aren’t receiving timely care when it comes to spinal surgery. The study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that older adults wait longer for surgery and are more likely to experience adverse outcomes than younger populations.

Although seniors are more than twice as likely to fall compared with younger adults, the study of 1,440 patients showed that older adults with spinal cord injuries wait around twice as long for surgery. While elderly patients generally have less severe injuries than their younger counterparts, they’re at an increased risk for in-hospital mortality. They’re also more likely to have a longer stay in the hospital than younger patients.

Experts remain unsure as to whether the delayed care for seniors is a result of ageism or other factors. Some suggest that there might be sound medical reasons to wait as health professionals assess the special risks of surgery in older adults. Others suspect delays in triage, diagnosis, and surgery may reflect an age-related bias in the medical profession. The Canadian study concluded that mandating specific time frames for the management of spinal cord injuries might improve outcomes for older adults.

With the average age of spinal cord injuries rising dramatically as the baby-boomer generation ages, ensuring seniors receive prompt care is critical. Researchers predict that by 2032, patients 70 years and older will account for most of the patients diagnosed with traumatic spinal cord injuries. Family members can help protect their elderly loved ones by doing what they can to reduce the risk of falls, such as making modifications to the home environment and getting assistance from Fairfield in-home care services.

To learn more about how in-home care can benefit your senior loved one, call Fairfield Home Care Assistance at 203-955-1915 and speak with a dedicated Care Manager. With part-time or live-in care in Fairfield, you can ensure your aging parent has help with tasks that often become more challenging with age, like running errands, cooking, and light housekeeping, and promote his or her safety and overall wellbeing.