Adult health after elderly scalding burns must be closely monitored, because patients of age 65 and older have more difficulty regaining their health. Over 500,000 scalding burns occur annually in the United States. Specifically, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that a total of 3,800 people are hospitalized and 34 people die every year due to scalding burn injuries from hot tap water.
Over 500,000 scald injuries occur each year in the United States. In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) released information regarding scalding burn injuries. According to the CDC’s release, roughly 33% to 58% of burn injuries that required hospitalization were scald injuries. Elderly scalding burns were reported to be the most severe. Patients over the age of 65 with scald injuries were less likely to recover than younger patients with scald injuries.
Recovery after Scalding Burn
It is important to understand why elderly scalding burns occur, and why adults over the age of 65 have a difficult recovery after a scalding burn. Adults over the age of 65 may experience shaky movements, making elderly people prone to spills in the kitchen. Their nerves may be less sensitive and it can take a longer time for an elderly person to identify that the running water is too hot. In addition, there are factors such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and falling risks that may cause an elderly person react slowly when a liquid is hot.
The thinner skin of older adults results in elderly scalding burns to be more severe. Third degree burns, as the result of scalding hot liquids, are more common in elderly patients. Once the scalding injury occurs, an elderly patient heals slowly as well. This raises the risk for infection after sustaining an elderly scalding burn, which can lead to a “domino effect” of health complications.
Scald Injuries in Assisted Living
Despite being in close proximity to medical care, residents of assisted living facilities are at severe risk of death if they sustain a scalding burn injury. A man by the name of Emil Malaniak was showering in his assisted living residence when the water suddenly became very hot. Malaniak was unable to turn the shower faucet to a reasonable temperature and risked falling if he got out of the shower by himself. The elderly man attempted to shield himself from the hot water with the shower curtain, but his feet and lower legs sustained second and third degree burns. Shortly after, Malaniak passed away due to the severity of his scald injuries.
Scald Injuries at Home
Among adults over the age of 65, the CDC estimates that 76% of nonfatal scald injuries occur at home. Approximately 42% of elderly scald injuries were associated with very hot food, while 32% were associated with steam or hot water. Furthermore, elderly women were more likely to sustain scald injuries. Roughly two-thirds of all hospitalizations due to elderly scalding burns were female patients.
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