Elder Care: Preventing Hospital Readmissions

Elder Care Preventing Hospital Readmissions

Many elderly patients who find themselves in the hospital are not fully prepared for the lifestyle changes they’ll have to make after they’re discharged.

Even with a full summary of instructions from the doctor–what medications to take, how often to return to the pharmacy, new diet restrictions, etc.–it is often difficult to perfectly follow all the new rules, especially after an exhausting stay in the hospital.

An article from the New York Times points out that many seniors are susceptible to complications from non-compliance, and often find themselves right back in the hospital within 30 days. Naturally, this isn’t good for the hospital, the patient, or his or her family. Those who suffer from heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial interaction are the most at risk of readmission, according to a study from the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Times offers the following suggestions, adapted from research from the University of Colorado and other institutions, on preventing your loved one from having a repeat visit to the hospital:

  • Hospital staff should spend more time teaching patients AND caregivers about the best ways to manage the condition.
  • Assess the kind of support a patient may need, including assistance with transportation, meal delivery, and home health care.
  • Schedule routine follow-ups with patients after they leave the hospital, and deal with their concerns.
  • Make sure that patients see their primary care doctor within a week of their discharge, and be sure the doctor has an official account of what happened during the hospital stay.
  • Educate patients as to who is responsible for coordinating their care, and what to do if a health care provider is unavailable.

Other key points from the article include:

  • Remember that when patients leave the hospital, they become their own care coordinator by default, so the more that patients can embrace that role and communicate their needs to health professionals, the better.
  • Patients should insist that a family member or caregiver be at their side when they receive instructions from hospital staff on what to do after returning home.
  • Don’t leave the hospital until you have the answers to questions like, “Why was I in the hospital? What was done to me? What needs to happen going forward? What should I be doing to maintain a stable condition?”

Do you know of any other measures that seniors and their caregivers can take in order to avoid future trips to the hospital? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

Physicians’ Choice Private Duty Assisted Living currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here. Or contact us for a free consultation or just to say hello!

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