Elderly people in Northbrook and Highland Park make multiple trips to the hospital each year. According to a study found in the New England Journal of Medicine, about one in five seniors are readmitted after their initial release. The study concentrated on people age 65 or older, and the study considered readmission into the hospital if it occurred within 30 days of being discharged.
The hospitals and the government want to decrease the number people readmitted into the hospital, because they are also are the entities that pay for the Medicare costs. There are times when readmission to the hospital are necessary and lifesaving, however there are many cases that can be avoided.
Seniors often need assistance at home after a hospital discharge, and that can fall on family members, close friends, neighbors, or an in-home caregiver. A senior’s care needs constantly change over time as they continue to heal, so it is important to evaluate their needs to determine what the best care options are. Having a combination of different helpers will benefit everyone, as it will create a healthy balance for the senior and those involved in providing care.
Transitioning from the hospital back home also includes a lot of follow ups with doctor visits and medication adjustments. Consider the following tips when determining the plan of action for returning home.
- The best place to start is by bringing the caregiver to the discharge appointment. Instructions provided by the hospital are very important but can be overwhelming, so having another person there can help ensure that details do not get overlooked is helpful. For example, there may be specific times of the day the senior needs to eat when taking new medications. There may also be a list of foods the senior will have to avoid with new medications. Having a caregiver present during this meeting will also assist the family in keeping track of all the medications the senior is on. Having multiple people know the medication list can help ensure different doctors do not prescribe conflicting medications.
- Before leaving the hospital, schedule follow-up any appointments so the caregiver can plan ahead to attend with the senior.
- During the discharge appointment, find out if the senior will 24-hour in-home care for some time after being released. In most cases, the 24-hour care is temporary but it is critical if the senior wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Consider having two caregivers if the senior wakes up frequently at night—one caregiver during the day and one at night, so the daytime caregiver can rest. This is why it is important to have a team of caregivers to help a senior recover.
- Maintaining a nutritious diet and staying hydrated is key to recovering after being in the hospital. Once the doctors have outlined the diet rules and expectations, have the caregiver do some grocery shopping and meal preparation to help stay on track.
The goal of in-home care is to help seniors live as independently as possible, while still receiving the necessary care to keep them safe. The transition from hospital to home is a big deal and should be treated as such to avoid the potential of being readmitted.
To learn more about in-home care, please visit www.TheHomeCareSpot.com.