Nobody wants to go back to the hospital after being discharged, especially if the initial hospital stay was lengthy or involved surgery. This is especially true for seniors, who often have other underlying health issues to manage. Today, we’re going to focus on five of the more common factors that often result in hospital readmissions for older adults and offer some tips on how to prevent them.
1. Early Discharge
It’s often a judgment call when a doctor determines when to release someone from the hospital. Several studies suggest some seniors may be released from the hospital too soon, which increases their risk of being readmitted. If you have concerns about your aging loved one’s release from the hospital, steps you should take include:
• Asking for clear reasons the doctor feels it’s time to discharge your loved one
• Informing the doctor of any lingering concerns you may have
• Objecting to the discharge if you believe your loved one isn’t fully ready to be released
When your loved one returns home, a professional caregiver can help him or her recover in safety and comfort. When searching for reliable home care service agencies, families want to know their senior loved ones will be well taken care of. At Home Care Assistance, our expertly trained caregivers are available around the clock to assist with tasks around the house, provide transportation to medical appointments and social events, and much more.
2. Poor Hospital-to-Home Transitions
Seniors sometimes end up going back to the hospital because they had poor transitions from hospital settings to their home environments. This is a potential problem you may be able to mitigate by:
• Preparing your loved one’s home before he or she is discharged
• Making sure you fully understand your loved one’s post-discharge instructions
• Providing assistance for your loved one at home as he or she recovers
3. High-Risk Conditions
Two studies published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine note high rates of readmission among individuals with high-risk conditions that brought them to the hospital in the first place. Such conditions include heart failure, lung disease, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If your loved one has a high-risk condition, you may be able to reduce the risk of readmission by:
• Talking to the doctor about how to handle your loved one’s symptoms
• Encouraging your loved one to make positive lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and eating healthier foods
• Knowing what specific risks are associated with your loved one’s condition so you can spot potential issues early
Many aging adults need assistance when they return home after being hospitalized. Some seniors only require help with a few daily tasks so they can maintain their independence. However, those living with serious illnesses may need more extensive assistance. Luckily, there is professional live-in care New Hampshire seniors can rely on. Home can be a safer and more comfortable place for your loved one to live with the help of an expertly trained and dedicated live-in caregiver.
4. Failure to Follow Doctor’s Orders
It’s great if your loved one is motivated to get back to his or her normal routine after being released from the hospital. However, overdoing it can result in injuries or other issues that could send him or her back to the hospital. If you know your loved one has a tendency to want to rush the recovery process, you may be able to reduce the risk of readmission by encouraging him or her to:
• Actively participate in physical therapy but still take time to rest
• Report any new or unusual symptoms, such as increased pain
• Take advantage of temporary home care if he or she prefers to have assistance provided in the comfort of home
5. Post-Surgery Complications or Infections
Complications related to surgery often result in hospital readmissions for elderly people. Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health suggests seniors sometimes experience post-surgery confusion or delirium. Effects of this nature could be even more severe if your loved one has existing cognitive issues. Post-surgery infections are another problem that sometimes sends seniors back to the hospital. Reduce these risks by:
• Making sure the doctor is fully aware of your loved one’s cognitive state
• Informing medical staff about all your loved one’s medications before he or she has surgery so anesthesia can be properly administered
• Knowing the signs of infection (e.g., lingering pain, fever, or unusual wound discharge)
A professional caregiver can closely monitor your loved one for post-hospitalization complications, including infections. New Hampshire homecare experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (603) 471-3004 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.