Two elderly women were out driving in a large car, neither one could hardly see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red but they went on through. The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself, “I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light!” After a few more minutes they came to another intersection, the light was red, and again they went right through. This time, the passenger was almost sure that the light had been red, but was also concerned that she might be seeing things. She was getting nervous and decided to pay very close attention. At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was definitely red and they went right through it. She turned to the other woman and said, “Mildred! Did you know we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us!” Mildred turned to her and said, “Oh My Gosh!! Am I driving?”
In 2010, falls among older adults cost the U.S. health care system $30 billion in direct medical costs, when adjusted for inflation.1 With the population aging, both the number of falls and the costs to treat fall injuries are likely to increase.
- One in three adults aged 65 and older falls each year.2 Of those who fall, 20% to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that make it hard for them to get around or live independently, and increase their risk of early death.
- Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes.
- In 2011, emergency departments treated 2.4 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults; more than 689,000 of these patients had to be hospitalized.
The costs of fall-related injuries are often shown in terms of direct costs.
- Direct costs are what patients and insurance companies pay for treating fall-related injuries. These costs include fees for hospital and nursing home care, doctors and other professional services, rehabilitation, community-based services, use of medical equipment, prescription drugs, changes made to the home, and insurance processing.
- Direct costs do not account for the long-term effects of these injuries such as disability, dependence on others, lost time from work and household duties, and reduced quality of life.
- In 2010, the total direct medical costs of fall injuries for people 65 and older, adjusted for inflation, was $30 billion.
- By 2020, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $54.9 billion (in 2007 dollars).
- Among community-dwelling older adults, fall-related injury is one of the 20 most expensive medical conditions.
- In 2002, about 22% of community-dwelling seniors reported having fallen in the previous year. Medicare costs per fall averaged between $9,113 and $13,507.8
- Among community-dwelling seniors treated for fall injuries, 65% of direct medical costs were for inpatient hospitalizations; 10% each for medical office visits and home health care, 8% for hospital outpatient visits, 7% for emergency room visits, and 1% each for prescription drugs and dental visits. About 78% of these costs were reimbursed by Medicare.
- In a 1998 study of people age 72 and older, the average health care cost of a fall injury totaled $19,440, which included hospital, nursing home, emergency room, and home health care, but not doctors’ services.
Age and sex
- The costs of fall injuries increase rapidly with age.
- Costs of both fatal and nonfatal falls are higher for women than for men.
- In 2000, medical costs for women, who comprised 58% of older adults, were two to three times higher than the costs for men.
- In 2000, 78% of fall deaths, and 79% of total costs, were due to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and injuries to the lower extremities.
- Injuries to internal organs were responsible for 28% of fall deaths and accounted for 29% of costs.
- Fractures were both the most common and most costly nonfatal injuries. Just over one-third of nonfatal injuries were fractures, but these accounted for 61% of total nonfatal costs—or $12 billion.
- Hospitalizations accounted for nearly two-thirds of the costs of nonfatal fall injuries and emergency department treatment accounted for 20%.
- On average, the hospitalization cost for a fall injury is $17,500.10
- Hip fractures are the most serious and costly fall-related fracture. Hospitalization costs account for 44% of the direct medical costs for hip fractures.
Most people don’t realize that the elderly deal with the factor of
financial struggle. People think the elderly are rich and have lots of money
saved up and go on lots of fancy trips. The reality is that the more health
issues you have as you age, the more money you will need for the treatments and
medications. Also many elders live pay check to pay check from Social Security.
The checks are not a lot, so if you haven’t saved much of your income when you
were working, affording care will be more difficult. The elderly take a big hit with that, because they need their medications and most have to pay out of pocket if Medicare doesn’t cover the whole cost. Also, elders take a hit from problems such as neglect, forgetfulness and falling prey to swindlers. So we as young folks need to be on the lookout and protect the aging population. Not only are finances difficult for the elderly, but finding affordable housing is a problem as well.
Healthcare costs are a big worry amongst the elderly population. With
the cost rising, many won’t be able to afford to keep it or to even get it.
More than 75 percent of Medicare-eligible households spent close to $10,000 out
of pocket on health care. The costs don’t stop there with increasing,
and will continue to increase with the more elderly people who need it. Also, expenses
are varied based on the type of medication an elder needs. Some have rare
illnesses that require more tests and treatments require more money. Illnesses
like cancer and dementia cost the most money, because it is more common for the
aging population. Some elderly people don’t go to the doctors or seek treatment
because they just can’t afford it. If the cost keeps rising, then the death
toll will also rise, because less people will have treatment that could save
their lives. Health is very important thing to have. If you don’t have good health, everything else means nothing. You aren’t yourself when you don’t feel well. There are so many people who don’t have health care and are suffering to make payments. With more and more elderly people living longer, the government needs to protect Medicare so that it will be around for generations to come.
My NPO group and I were given the opportunity to walk the beautiful grounds of the Furnace Town Museum. We took this opportunity to take a lot of great photos of the beautiful and historic grounds on the Furnace Town property. We learned a lot about all they have to offer and we are excited to show you some of the images from our day!
“There are so many talents and abilities and accomplishments to share—no one should feel that life is over just because you have mental illness.”
People with mental illness do get better with the help of proper treatment and support. Some eventually do not need on-going treatment. Some people can learn how to manage their illness on their own after proper treatment Experiencing mental health problems or being diagnosed with a mental illness evokes many feelings for the individuals affected, not only for the person with the problems, but for their family, friends, and others associated with them. Mental illness has had a long history of negative associations, and the stigma that remains with mental health disorders continues to affect people negatively. With education and understanding about the facts on mental illness, we can begin to eliminate stigma and increase the quality of life and access to treatment of those who are coping with it. The stigma of mental illness should not prevent people from leading normal lives in the community or getting the treatment that they need. Below are some of the beliefs and myths associated with mental illness and the facts that can clarify confusing or negative impressions: better, just as one would not wait to take care of a medical condition that needed treatment. Some people worry that others will avoid them if they seek treatment for their mental illness. Early treatment can produce better results. Seeking appropriate help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Myth: If I have a mental health problem I should be able to take care of it myself.
Reality: Some mental health problems, such as mild depression or anxiety, can be relieved with support, self-help, and proper care. However, if problems or symptoms persist, a person should consult with their primary doctor or a qualified mental health professional.
Myth: If I have a mental illness, it is a sign of weakness—it’s my fault.
Reality: Mental illness is not anyone’s fault; any more than heart disease or diabetes is a person’s fault. According to the Surgeon General’s report: “Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof), associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.” Mental illnesses are not a condition that people choose to have or not have. Mental illnesses are not results of willful, petulant behavior. No one should have to feel ashamed of this condition any more than any other medical condition.
Myth: If I seek help for my mental health problem, others will think I am “crazy.”
Reality: No one should delay getting treatment for a mental health problem that is not
Myth: People diagnosed with a mental illness are always ill and out of touch with reality.
Reality: Most people suffering from even then most severe of mental illnesses are in touch with reality more often than they are not. Many people quietly bear the symptoms of mental illness
Without ever showing signs of their illness to others and most people with mental illness live productive, active lives.
Myth: Stress causes mental illness.
Reality: This is only partially true. Stress may occasionally trigger an episode or cause symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but persistent symptoms appear to be biological in nature. There are probably many things that can contribute to mental illness—the cause is not yet fully understood.
Myth: A person can recover from a mental illness by turning his or her thoughts
Positively and with prayer.
Reality: Recovery is possible when the person receives the necessary treatment and supports.
Spirituality can be an important source of strength for some individuals as well.
Myth: People who have a mental illness are dangerous.
Reality: People who have mental illness are no more violent than is someone suffering from
Cancer or any other serious disease.
Myth: Most people with mental illness live on the streets or are in mental hospitals.
Reality: Over two-thirds of Americans who have a mental illness live in the community and
lead productive lives. Most people who need hospitalization are only there for brief periods to get treatment and are then able to return home, just like persons hospitalized for other conditions.
Some people with mental illness do become homeless.
It is so to what does happen to some of our elderly population, but with patience and time we all can help and be a good asset.
Those who have major mental health problems such as, dementia, bi-polar, OCD, delirium, Alzheimer’s disease and more (www.agingcare.com) are those who end up in psychiatric facilities, if they don’t have family who can take care of them. Many elders resist treatment for depression and other disorders because of the images that are displayed in the media and popular culture. The older generation and movies like “The Snakepit” and “Psycho” have left lasting negative perceptions of others experiencing psychological distress. After growing up and seeing how the “crazy people” are treated, many people don’t want to bring attention when they get to that stage in the aging process. It is estimated that 18 to 25 percent of elders are in need of mental care for depression, anxiety, psychosomatic disorders, adjustment to aging, and schizophrenia. It is very unnerving that the elderly suicide rate is the highest of all age groups in the US. Normally elderly persons go and see their primary care doctor for help with issues regarding mental health. Most doctors don’t have the training in care for elderly patients. Some doctors don’t realize the signs for mental health problems; they feel like the patient is just going through the aging process.
Women, mainly Caucasian are likelier to suffer from a mental illness problem and seek help from health services than African Americans. Those who use the services more tend to be unmarried and have no children, and they also have more education and higher incomes and can afford it. Social support, life stressors, and coping strategies are predisposing factors that may enable the use of mental health services .Also having a big support from friends and family goes a long way too. According to Lanza, from Overcoming mental health issues in the elderly, a good way to deal with mental health is to be your own advocate, exercise, sleep and eat regularly and do the things that you enjoy doing to manage stress.