Orthostatic Hypotension & Risks In The Elderly—Determining Skill Nursing Care Eligibility

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four people aged 65 and over fall every year. Even though there are many different reasons for falls among the elderly, there is one medical condition in particular that can easily result in a fall every time the person stands up—orthostatic hypotension. Studies show that sometimes the elderly who have hypertension also have orthostatic hypotension. Here's what you need to know if your elderly parent has been diagnosed with orthostatic hypotension and may have hypertension. 

What Does Orthostatic Hypotension Mean? 

Orthostatic hypotension is a condition in which the patient's blood pressure drops significantly when standing, which can cause dizziness and fainting. What happens is the body is unable to tell the autonomic nervous system that the blood pressure needs to increase to account for the change in position. This causes the blood to not be able to be pumped up to the brain. In turn, a lack of blood to the brain, and therefore a sudden reduction in oxygen to the brain, causes the individual to become dizzy, and they may faint.

Of course, dizziness and fainting in the elderly population easily lead to falls. Sometimes, falls can be severe enough to cause head injuries and broken bones. If it happens too often, a safer environment such as a nursing home should be strongly considered. 

What Is the Connection Between Orthostatic Hypotension & Hypertension? 

Research conducted in Boston and published by the National Institutes of Health have found that incidents of orthostatic hypotension were high at 19 percent in participants who had uncontrolled hypertension. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, which of course is the complete opposite of hypotension, which is low blood pressure. Individuals with hypertension are at risk of serious medical conditions such as heart failure, aneurysms, and stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control says that one in five adults in the United States have hypertension and do not know it. If your parent is found to have hypertension, a rehabilitation facility is recommended. However, if they also have orthostatic hypotension, a nursing home is recommended due to their risk of falls. 

What Can Be Done to Determine If Your Parent Needs Skilled Nursing? 

With all of this in mind, it is crucial that you have your elderly parent assessed for placement in a skilled nursing care. The assessment is called a Patient Review Instrument. It's a tool that is used to identify if someone is in need of skilled nursing care and to what extent. It's conducted by a nurse and can be facilitated by a Medicaid specialist