June 4 (UPI) -- One in five visits to hospital emergency rooms in the United States involve seniors 60 years and older, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In all, 7 percent of patients in hospital ERs come from nursing homes, the agency reported.
"[The ER] visit rate increased with age," the CDC researchers wrote.
"In addition, several other characteristics also increased with age, including the percentage of visits made by nursing home residents," they continued.
The figures are based on CDC researchers' analysis of trends in ER usage between 2014 and 2017.
The number of adults 60 years and older in the United States increased to 71 million in 2017 from 52 million a decade earlier, the researchers said. Older adults now account for 22 percent of the total U.S. population, they added.
People 90 and older accounted for the bulk of ER visits among older adults from 2014 through 2017, the analysis revealed. In all, 24 percent of those 90 and older visiting hospital ERs were nursing home residents.
Although the most recent data is from 2017, the findings are an indicator of overall health among those living in nursing homes, an issue that has received increased attention as many of these facilities have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Patients arriving at the hospital in an ambulance accounted for 30 percent of all ER visits by people older than 60, the CDC said. In all, people 90 years and older accounted for 53 percent of these ambulance arrivals, the agency said.
Unintentional falls accounted for 13 percent of all ER visits by seniors between 2014 and 2017, the agency said. Overall, 23 percent of all ER visits by older adults resulted in admission to the hospital, the CDC analysis found.
"As the U.S. population continues to grow older, monitoring use and provision of [ER] services among this population may help inform the ability of [ERs] to handle the unique needs of older patients," the CDC researchers wrote.