EMS Ambulance 29 Jul 2022
Repatriating an elderly person after a fall
Falls are one of the world’s leading causes of injury. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 37 million of us will end up needing to seek medical help after a fall in an average year.
“Globally, falls are a major health problem,” they explain. “[They] are responsible for over 38 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost each year, and result in more years lived with disability than transport injury, drowning, burns and poisoning combined.”
Why older people are so much more at risk
It won’t surprise you to know that older people are more likely to suffer fall-related injuries than other demographics. The WHO adds that up to 30% of older people who fall will end up suffering “moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head trauma.” Most of the reasons for this are pretty obvious:
- Physical impairment – the natural frailties and longer recovery periods that come with ageing
- Cognitive issues – mental impairments, such as dementia, substantially raise the risk of injury
- Sensory problems – failing eyesight and hearing loss
A less well-known risk factor is medication. Several types of drugs used by older people are known to increase the potential for falls, so much so that they’re referred to as “fall-risk-increasing medicines.” Studies have found that certain sedatives, hypnotics and antidepressants are strongly associated with falls in the elderly. The reasons for this are complex, but they include things like medication-induced drowsiness, confusion, visual impairment and even dehydration.
Why treatment abroad can be risky
Not every elderly person who suffers a fall abroad will need to fly home, of course. But experience tells us it’s one of the biggest reasons why families do end up turning to EMS Ambulance for help. There are two major reasons why:
Poor initial care
Sadly, the quality of care differs drastically from country to country. This sometimes only becomes clear when an elderly person ends up in hospital. “After an operation on a broken hip, medical care for my mother in Spain went wrong,” recalls one customer, writing on the EMS Google Reviews page (translated from Dutch by Google). “Because she was not covered by travel insurance (she is a resident, not a tourist) or the Belgian health insurance company, we had to look for an alternative and ended up at EMS. The prompt and professional treatment by EMS was a relief after the amateurism in Spain.”
Difficulties with aftercare
Recent research has found that elderly people face far better outcomes if they’re able to access high-quality, multidisciplinary care after their hospitalisation. To cite just one example, a 2018 study into abdominal operations found that elderly patients who received “coordinated interdisciplinary” care experienced shorter hospital stays, lower readmission rates, fewer complications, and a higher likelihood of being able to return home to look after themselves. This kind of coordinated, multi-department healthcare is simply not available in many countries. And even where it is, patients’ families find it much harder – and often impossible – to communicate with foreign hospitals, and look after their elderly relatives, when they’re thousands of miles away.
How EMS can bring your relative home
Watching an elderly relative suffer is one of the most stressful experiences anyone can face, especially when they are a long way from home. That’s why we work hard to make repatriation as simple, fast and effective as possible. This includes:
Communication with the foreign hospital – our multilingual medics will liaise with the local doctors
Bed-to-bed transports – we take on every part of the process, from first call to arrival back home
Fast turnarounds – in many cases we can start the repatriation within 24-48 hours of the first call
Wheelchair access – we’ll organise everything your patient needs, with their own wheelchair if preferred
Overland option – where possible, we can deploy long-distance road ambulances to avoid the need for multiple transfers
Clinical specialists – we can bring specialist medics onto the transport if your patient needs specific care en route
Regular updates – we’ll keep you in touch with your patient’s journey by email, iMessage or WhatsApp
Interested in reading more on this topic? You might find this article useful!
Would it be helpful to talk to us? We’re here to help! Just get in touch with our friendly experts by phone, email or WhatsApp. Head to our Contact page for the details. You can also get a free, no-obligation cost estimate for your repatriation with our online pricing calculator.
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