Having to return to the hospital can be stressful for seniors and just as worrisome for their caregivers. While not all return visits to the hospital can be prevented, there are some common diagnoses that tend to be associated with readmissions. Here are seven of them, along with tips on what you can do to prevent them.
1. High-Risk Health Conditions
A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found a person’s specific condition plays a key role in readmissions. Therefore, if your senior loved one is first admitted to the hospital for a high-risk condition such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), he or she is statistically likely to return for issues related to the same condition. Reduce this risk by:
- Encouraging your loved one to be actively involved in the management of the condition
- Educating yourself about your loved one’s condition so you’ll know what problematic symptoms to look for
- Exploring available options for the treatment and management of your loved one’s condition
A BMC Geriatrics study names infections as one of the top diagnoses for senior readmissions to hospitals. This is because older adults are particularly susceptible to developing infections when their immune systems are already busy with the healing and recovery process. Minimize this risk with precautions that include:
- Limiting in-person visits when your loved one returns home
- Using antibacterial wipes to keep commonly touched surfaces clean
- Knowing the signs of post-surgical infection (e.g., unusual discharge, redness or swelling around the wound site, and/or fever)
A professional caregiver can closely monitor your loved one for post-hospitalization complications, including infections. When searching for reliable homecare services agencies, families want to know their senior loved one will be well taken care of. At Home Care Assistance, our expertly trained caregivers are available around the clock to assist with tasks around the house, provide transportation to medical appointments and social events, and much more.
3. Fall-Related Injuries
The same BMC Geriatrics study noted that reasons for hospital readmissions tend to stray from the original diagnoses for older adults. One common culprit is serious fall-related injuries that occur after discharge. A different study also found such injuries were likely to send Medicare beneficiaries back to the hospital. Keep these fall-prevention tips in mind:
- Remove fall hazards from your loved one’s home before he or she is discharged
- Place commonly used items within easy reach
- Make sure your loved one has access to appropriate assistive devices, such as walkers and canes, if he or she has mobility issues after being discharged
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) review of elderly hospital readmissions data found older adults with pneumonia have readmission rates that range from 17 to 25 percent. This suggests extra care is needed post-discharge if your loved one is recovering from a serious respiratory condition of this nature. Mitigation recommendations include:
- Regular hand-washing
- A diet that includes nutrient-rich fruits and veggies
- Regular exercise
- Encouragement to take warm baths or use a cool-mist humidifier
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 Tucson, AZ, 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.
5. Surgical Complications
A study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the American College of Surgeons found hospital readmissions following surgery are often due to complications that weren’t present during the initial hospitalization. The solution here is to be especially mindful of your loved one’s care if he or she is returning home from the hospital following surgery. In-home care services can also be used for this purpose.
6. Harmful Drug Interactions
Approximately 30 percent of hospital readmissions are related to medication issues, according to the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. And because older adults often take multiple medications for issues they had prior to being hospitalized, having to take other meds temporarily after discharge increases the risk of harmful drug interactions. Reduce this risk by making sure your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist have a complete list of all medications your loved one is taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
7. Recurring or New Pain
While it’s common for older adults returning home from the hospital to experience some degree of pain as the body heals, this discomfort should gradually lessen. If this doesn’t happen, they’re likely to need to be hospitalized again to find out why. Research suggests some older adults on Medicare are being discharged from hospitals too soon, which could also be a contributing factor. Reduce this risk by voicing any concerns you may have about your loved one’s discharge plans.
A professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior who’s recovering after being hospitalized. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of home care services. Tucson Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at (520) 214-5440 to learn more about our reliable in-home care.