Having aging loved ones return home from a hospitalization only to be admitted again a few weeks later can be frustrating and emotional for family members and caregivers. Repeated hospital admissions can also be physically and mentally taxing for seniors and have associated health risks that can arise after being discharged.
This is why it becomes essential for family caregivers to learn how to reduce the chances of hospital readmissions for their aging loved ones; helping ensure their transition back home is as smooth and safe as possible.
To help you learn what steps to take, we have prepared a comprehensive guide that looks at some of the best ways to better plan and support seniors who have recently been released from the hospital and help them live healthier lives.
6 Effective Ways To Reduce Hospital Readmissions For Seniors
Rising hospital readmission rates are a growing concern for Canadian families and Canada’s healthcare system. It is estimated that one in five seniors is readmitted to a hospital within one month of them being released.
The reasons for readmissions vary depending on medical conditions, but the most common causes are falls, infections, dehydration, and medication errors.
While certain health risks are unavoidable, the steps mentioned below are the most effective ways of reducing hospital readmissions and allowing seniors to live active and healthy lifestyles.
Enlist The Help Of A Case Manager
Case managers are specialized professionals that manage and deal with all care aspects of their patients’ including:
- Speaking with physicians, family members, nurses, and other health care professionals to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to addressing the health care needs of the patient.
- Assisting patients while they are admitted to the hospital and after they are released
- Help arrange home care or long-term care after being discharged
- Take care of any legal, insurance, and ethical issues that may arise
Case managers play an instrumental role in ensuring a smooth transition from the hospital back home. They can help patients get used to and comfortable with their daily routines and take necessary steps to ensure they have everything they need at home.
Enlisting the services of a case manager to help seniors with chronic conditions or complex medical needs can not only help in reducing hospital readmissions but also keep seniors happy and safe at home.
Hire The Services Of Trusted Primary Care Providers
Another great way to reduce hospital readmissions is to hire the services of a professional caregiver the day after discharge. This is the time that the patient and family caregivers are the most nervous and scared.
Having a professional take over for a couple of days or more can help ease the stress and pressure off caregivers to keep up with the hospital-to-home care plan. They can also help explain how everything must be done and provide much-needed reassurance and reminders until everyone begins to feel comfortable with their new roles and duties.
Look Out For Signs Of Infections & Dehydration
No matter how clean hospitals may look they are a breeding ground for many types of hospital-related infections that seniors unfortunately can easily contract. In many instances, a few days after being discharged, an aging loved one can begin to exhibit symptoms such as fever, rash, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and urinary issues.
If the symptoms can be spotted early enough, a doctor can prescribe the necessary antibiotics to stop the infection and prevent the person from going back to the hospital.
Dehydration can also lead to hospital readmissions as it is easy for patients to forget to consume enough liquids after being released due to fatigue or the fact that they might still be ill. It is up to caregivers to ensure that they set reminders that help them keep hydrated.
Make Sure Seniors Attend All Follow-Up Medical Appointments
Under no circumstances should seniors even miss a follow-up medical appointment after being discharged from the hospital. No matter how well they may be feeling, there can be several undiagnosed and untreated issues that could have gone undetected during hospitalization which can ultimately cause them to fall sick again.
Partner with a professional caregiver if needed that can help take seniors to their appointments and monitor their post-hospitalization health.
Ensure Proper Medication Management
It is highly likely that after returning home from hospitalization, caregivers will have to deal with complex medication schedules at least for the first month or so. This can be challenging for both seniors and caregivers to manage, especially if they haven’t been used to such schedules in the past.
Complex medication schedules can lead to medication errors, such as loved ones forgetting to take their medications on time, double-dosing, or taking medications in the wrong doses, which can all be potentially dangerous and can easily lead to re-hospitalization.
The best way to make medication management safe and easy for everyone is to invest in an automatic pill dispenser such as the one offered by Northwood Intouch. These highly convenient and practical devices can help bring medication errors down to zero and make even managing the most complex medication schedules a breeze.
Take Measures To Prevent Falls
One of the most common reasons for hospital readmissions is falls. Patients that are recently released from the hospital are often at the highest risk of falling as their bodies are still recovering and are a lot weaker than they realize. Fatigue can also cause faintness or lightheadedness that can also result in falls.
As such, it is essential to ensure that as senior loved ones return home, measures are taken to ensure they do not trip or fall. This involves removing all obstacles and clutter that may be blocking walking paths and installing safety bars in washrooms and staircases.
Another excellent precaution to take is to get seniors to always wear an automatic fall detection device on them at all times. This device can automatically detect falls and immediately alert caregivers and medical personnel to come to their aid. Getting immediate help can prevent serious injury and reduce the need for hospitalization.
Helping Seniors Live Healthier & Active Lifestyles
Just because an aging loved one has been to the hospital doesn’t mean that they can’t do the things they love. Partnering with care providers such as Northwood Intouch can allow seniors to continue to live independently in the comfort of their own homes doing the things they love and cherish.
To learn more about who we are and how we can help visit our website or call us at +1 (902) 492-3346.