Most Common Reasons for Emergency Room Visits – A Slippery Slope to Declining Health

Most Common Reasons for Emergency Room Visits – A Slippery Slope to Declining Health

At VIPcare, our goal is to help you achieve optimal health and prevent common reasons for emergency room visits. In order to protect yourself from becoming part of the statistics, you need to know what can lead to those hospital visits and why one trip could turn into several.

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Top 5 Most Common Reasons for ER Visits

In a report released by the CDC in June of 2020, findings show that from 2014 – 2017 about 20% of emergency room visits were adults aged 60 and older. For that age group, it equates to 43 visits per 100 people. Here are some of the biggest pitfalls to be aware of to prevent yourself from being one of those 43 visitors:


Three million older adults are treated for fall injuries every year in the emergency room. And if you fall once, the CDC says that doubles your risk of experiencing a fall again.

Falling down can lead to injuries like broken bones, head trauma, or even just a fear of falling down again. Broken bones and head injuries can lead to some serious complications, increasing your chances of another hospital visit. As for the fear of falling again, that can cause people to become less active, which will make you weaker and more likely to fall again at some point.

So, what puts you at risk for falling to begin with? Look at this list from the CDC:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Issues with balance
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Some medications
  • Issues with foot pain or improper footwear
  • Hazards in the home (broken/uneven/narrow stairs, throw rugs, clutter, etc…)

The key to lowering the chances of falling lies in addressing those issues.

Strengthening your lower body and core muscles can help you become more stable. Make sure your home is laid out in a way that’s as open as possible, free of clutter, and free of rugs or other things that you could slip on.

Always talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about how to work on your stability or if you’re taking any medications that could impact your vision or balance.

Medication Mistakes

As we age, the number of medications we take can ramp up pretty quickly. It’s not hard to lose track of what you took, when you took it, and what you may have just forgotten to take.

Medication management is crucial to keeping you in good health and out of the hospital. Misusing your medication can lead to what’s called an adverse drug event (ADE). That’s when you have a negative reaction to a medicine or combination of medicines that result in harm.

Accidental misuse of your medicine can also lead to falls, which we covered in the previous section.

You can prevent an ADE by closely monitoring your medicine intake. You’ve got several options for medication tracking, including a simple worksheet, using a pill dispenser, or getting your medications in pre-dosed pill packs.

A nurse helps an older man with rehabilitation after an ER visit.


A stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is impeded. Things like blood clots or narrow arteries are what lead to this. When your brain doesn’t get enough blood flow, there isn’t enough oxygen being delivered, which starts to kill brain cells.

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating a stroke. The longer your brain goes without adequate oxygen, the more likely you are to lose brain cells. These are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (particularly if it affects only one side of the body)
  • Abrupt confusion or inability to speak
  • Sudden problems with vision
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you notice any of these symptoms you need to call 911 immediately.

Heart Disease

Chest pains and shortness of breath are two the most common symptoms for getting emergency attention. And those two things should have you high-tailing it to the hospital emergency department. Both are symptoms of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Changes in the heart and blood vessels as we age leave older adults more prone to developing heart disease. Heart disease is largely caused by the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries.

Remember how a stroke is caused by the brain not getting enough oxygen? Heart disease causes your heart to not get enough oxygen by way of reduced blood flow. When that level gets low enough, you have a heart attack.

Diabetes Complications

The American Diabetes Association says a little more than a quarter of people aged 65 and older have some form of diabetes. In order to prevent any negative effects, those with diabetes have to make sure it’s being controlled at all times.

Having any form of diabetes can lead to health problems like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and even nerve damage that can lead to amputation. Those with type 2 diabetes are also at a higher risk for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on aging.

A paramedic examines a senior who fell victim to one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits.

ER Trips Could Be a Turning Point

Though the most common reasons for emergency room visits won’t always end up getting you admitted to the hospital, that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. Studies show even those emergency department visits that don’t culminate in an extended hospital stay could signal some larger problems.

Research shows six months after visiting the ER, older adults were 14% more likely to develop some type of disability than someone of the same age with a similar bill of health but didn’t end up in the emergency room. A disability in this case can be defined as difficulty with any type of normal activity like bathing or getting dressed.

Digging deeper into that steep decline, further studies show that after an ER visit many older adults will experience mobility issues for up to a year after the visit. As a result, those patients are not getting up and about as much, which can severely impact quality of life or end up with a move to a nursing home. Such a decline in quality of life has the potential to be a trigger that leads to that adult just giving up.

Those things can lead to a drastic spiral of overall health, which is difficult to recover from. Having a good support system of family members or friends to follow up and make sure things are going ok after an ER trip can make all the difference.

Focusing on Better Health

The bottom line is staying healthy in the first place is the best plan of action. You can accomplish that goal is staying in touch with your doctor. Prevention should be the focus.

Developing a working relationship with your physician will allow them to better diagnose any issues you may be dealing with. It will also help them create the best treatment plan for you to get or stay healthy and out of the hospital.

Our physicians have plenty of time to set aside during your appointment. You won’t be rushed in and then out as quickly as possible. You’re encouraged to have a conversation and get to know each other. Our goal is to help you on the road to Better Health.

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