Roughly one out of every six people with Medicare returns to the hospital within just 30 days of being discharged, according to data from the Dartmouth Atlas Project. If you’re caring for a senior loved one, you understandably want to do everything possible to reduce the risk of having to take him or her back to the hospital. To help you achieve this goal, let’s discuss seven common reasons for senior hospital readmissions.
A 2019 study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Nursing found that falls are an increasingly common reason for hospital readmissions among seniors. This risk is even higher for those with cognitive impairment. Reduce the risk of falls after your loved one is discharged from the hospital by taking the following steps around the home:
• Removing loose rugs
• Rearranging furniture so regularly used pathways are clear
• Placing frequently used items on lower shelves to avoid the need for excessive reaching
A professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior who’s recovering after being hospitalized. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elderly home care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.
2. Congestive Heart Failure
AARP reports that more than 700,000 adults 65 and older are admitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure each year. It’s also a condition that often requires repeat hospital visits. If your loved one has heart issues that result in frequent inpatient care, you may able to reduce readmission risk by:
• Encouraging appropriate diet changes
• Talking to the doctor about what recovery should involve
• Ensuring your loved one is getting a sufficient amount of exercise when he or she is able to do so
3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is another chronic condition that results in numerous senior hospital readmissions. It’s often linked to long-term tobacco use and includes conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. If this is why your loved one was in the hospital, you may be able to minimize the need for readmission by:
• Helping him or her quit smoking
• Using air purification devices in the home to reduce exposure to airborne irritants
• Looking out for times when symptoms become worse (acute exacerbation) so appropriate steps can be taken before a medical emergency occurs
4. Medication Problems
Strong pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, and sedatives are among the medications often prescribed after seniors are released from the hospital. Some of these medications can result in severe side effects or reactions that may be serious enough to warrant a return visit to the hospital. Mitigate this risk by carefully monitoring dosages and learning the potential side effects you should be watching out for as your loved one recovers.
Even a minor infection can become serious enough to bring a senior back to the hospital after discharge. Not all post-discharge infections can be prevented, but be on the lookout for signs of post-hospital infection, which could include:
• Unusual wound discharge
• A burning sensation while urinating
• Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
• Fever and/or headaches
A professional caregiver can closely monitor your loved one for post-hospitalization complications, including infections. Philadelphia Home Care 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.
Seniors sometimes return to the hospital because they develop pneumonia after being released. Part of the reason for this is because certain treatments can further weaken an immune system that may already be compromised because of other underlying health issues. Preventative steps include:
• Managing diabetes and other chronic conditions that could increase immune system weakness
• Keeping your loved one away from friends and family members who are sick
• Encouraging healthy eating and good hygiene habits
7. Early Discharge
Northwestern University has linked a dramatic increase in ambulatory and outpatient surgeries that often result in same-day discharges or single overnight stays to an uptick in hospital readmissions among older adults. Increase your loved one’s readiness for discharge by:
• Clarifying discharge instructions
• Getting follow-up care instructions in writing to avoid confusion
• Making sure he or she has sufficient access to in-home care if there will be times when you won’t be available
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 Philadelphia, PA, 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. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (215) 645-4663.