Getting out of the hospital can be huge relief after an extended stay, and in most cases people will do whatever they can to avoid a return trip. So, why do so many older adults require another visit to hospital far too soon after their discharge date?
The need for hospital readmission can happen for a variety of reasons, most often those include poor planning and an inadequate recovery program. Having a practical plan in place before even going to the hospital can be extremely beneficial, providing it is a scheduled trip for something like surgery or treatment. Even if the trip to the hospital is an unexpected one, there are still options to help ensure a smooth transition back home.
Common Factors that Lead to Hospital Readmission
Some of the most common reasons seniors have to make a premature return to the hospital, may include:
- Failure to consider post-discharge needs
- Lack of follow up
- Medication issues
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of dedication to rehab process
- Fall injuries
- Inadequate support and assistance
Neglecting Post-Discharge Needs
An effective release plan can make a huge difference in the success of post-release healing. The recovery experience can be a very delicate process, and any disruptions can result in significant setbacks. Ideally, upon release from the hospital, the home will be optimally prepared for healing. This includes removing any hazards that increase the risk of falls, and arranging the support needed for a quick and full recovery.
Hospital discharge services can be obtained from a professional home care agency, to help facilitate the operation and help make all the preparations, from transportation to home support.
Lack of Follow Up
After being released from the hospital, it is recommended to follow up with your physician or a healthcare specialist within a week or so after discharge. This helps to ensure that everything is on the right track and the proper steps are being taken to maximize recovery. It is a good idea to make sure an appointment is set up as soon as possible after getting out of the hospital, to help prevent complications and regression.
Medication can be another tricky issue upon release from the hospital, as it will typically involve adding another medication or two into the regular mix. A high percentage of seniors are already taking multiple medications for various ailments, and adding more can present problems. Make sure all existing medications are agreeable with any new prescriptions to avoid adverse side effects, or the medications being rendered ineffective due to incompatibility.
Creating a schedule for medication management can be a huge help.
It is shocking how often the importance of nutrition is overlooked for healing and overall health in general. In order to properly recover, the body needs energy and a strong immune system to combat inflammation and injury. The way to achieve this is from a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. This involves eating lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and quality fish and poultry.
Processed foods, and foods high in fat and sugar, should be avoided at all costs as they are empty calories and are counterproductive to healing.
Lack of Dedication
For almost every ailment, illness, or injury it takes dedication and perseverance to make a full recovery. This is especially true with age, as the older we get, the longer it takes to recovery from anything. Taking a half-interested approach will not achieve the desired results, particularly if you are hoping to continue living an independent lifestyle.
There are several factors that can contribute to an increased risk for fall injuries after release from the hospital. For one, you are likely in a weakened state, especially after having surgery or recovering from an accident of injury. This can affect balance, and cause you to be less stable on your feet. There are also medication side affects and other possible cognitive impairments to consider. Preparing the home for optimal comfort and safety is a good preventative measure if it can be done in advance. Regular physical exercise, including strengthening techniques and stretching can help prevent falls resulting in reinjury.
Support and Assistance
There is very little that is more important to the recovery process than having the appropriate support and assistance to aid your healing. This can be in the form of a family member, friend, or professional caregiver. A combination of family support and professional assistance is ideal, to help ensure all bases are covered for a successful recovery.