It’s not pleasant for an older adult to have to return to the hospital, especially since most senior readmissions occur within 30 days of release. Repeated hospitalizations can be just as stressful for family members who provide some type of care for a cherished older loved one, which is why we’re going to focus on some of the factors that frequently lead to hospital readmissions and offer some tips on how to reduce return hospital visits due to these factors.
1. Sustaining a Fall-Related Injury
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fall injuries are a leading reason for hospital readmissions for adults 65 and older. Reduce this risk for your loved one after he or she is discharged from the hospital by:
• Removing fall hazards like throw rugs from the home
• Encouraging him or her to do home-based exercises to re-strengthen the muscles needed for mobility and stability
• Arranging for in-home assistance
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 home care. Clarksville families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
2. Being Discharged Too Soon
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the current average hospital stay is 4.5 days. It’s not surprising that one of the common reasons for hospital readmissions among seniors is being discharged too soon. If you believe this applies to your loved one, you may be able to respond by:
• Asking for clear reasons why discharge is being recommended
• Raising any objections you may have to the discharge
• Discussing any underlying health concerns you believe your loved one’s doctor should take into consideration before signing off on discharge
3. Getting an Infection
Urinary tract, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal infections are among the common types of hospital-acquired infections that tend to send seniors back to the hospital, according to research referenced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A weakened immune system could also increase your loved one’s risk of developing a serious infection that requires inpatient care during the recovery period. Precautions you can take to mitigate this risk include:
• Looking out for signs of an infection when your loved one is discharged
• Keeping the home as clean as possible as he or she recovers
• Limiting in-person visits from friends and other family members during the initial recovery period
4. Overdoing It
It’s great if your loved one is anxious to get back to his or her normal activity level. However, attempting to do certain activities too soon can result in a visit back to the hospital for seniors. Instead, help your loved one realize his or her limits while also encouraging him or her to safely participate in post-discharge physical therapy sessions.
Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Clarksville, TN, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
5. Developing a Serious Health Issue
Blood poisoning (septicemia), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and abnormal heartbeat (cardiac dysrhythmia) are among the serious conditions that frequently lead to hospital readmissions, according to an AHRQ study involving people with Medicare. Problems related to diabetes and other chronic conditions can also result in repeated readmissions. If your loved one has what’s considered a “high-risk condition,” you may be able to minimize his or her readmission risk by:
• Educating yourself on the condition
• Encouraging your loved one to be proactive about things like what he or she eats and how much exercise he or she gets
• Making sure he or she has appropriate assistance while recovering from a recent hospital stay
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional elder care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (931) 218-2781.