Emergency admissions to hospital for people over 75 have soared over the past decade according to worrying new figures.
Scotland’s growing elderly population is proving challenging for health services with almost 2000 more people being admitted to hospital in this area in emergency situations.
In Forth Valley the number of pensioners attending A&E has jumped from 5729 in 2003-04 to 7511 in 2012-13 and is forecast to rise in coming years as the elderly population increases.
A report by the NHS’s Information Services Division showed the number in Scotland rose from 116,128 to 149,866 during the same period
Central Scotland Conservative list MSP Margaret Mitchell is urging the Scottish Government to tackle the issue as a “number one priority”.
She said: “The fact people are living longer is absolutely to be welcomed and it is time to face up to the fact this is going to bring an array of challenges.
“The increase of the last decade cannot be brushed aside. Furthermore, without doubt, it will continue for some time.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Forth Valley said the health board is seeing more older patients with complex health needs which include dementia, lung problems, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
She added: “A new ‘one-stop’ service has recently been introduced in Forth Valley to improve the care and treatment of frail, older people and help reduce avoidable hospital admissions.
“This new service enables GPs to refer elderly patients to a rapid access clinic at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where tests and investigations can be carried out at the same time.”
The Friends of Forth Valley Royal Hospital group said it is helping older people while they are in hospital by buying slippers to prevent falls.
Group chairman Bob Ness said: “NHS Forth Valley has a ‘falls strategy’ and as part of that we purchased 240 pairs of slippers to stop older people falling. “Sometimes older people coming into hospital slip because the footwear they have on is inappropriate.”