6 Major Causes of Senior Rehospitalizations

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates healthcare costs related to preventable hospital readmissions could be more than $500 million annually. Having to return to the hospital can be especially problematic for seniors. It’s impossible to prevent every instance of hospital readmission. Even so, understanding the common reasons for elderly hospital readmissions can help you take appropriate precautions to keep your aging loved one from having to be readmitted. 

1. Heart, Lung, & Blood Disorders

The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) has determined congestive heart failure is the top reason older adults go back to the hospital, followed by septicemia, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and abnormal heart rate (cardiac dysrhythmia). If your loved one has a condition that’s statistically more likely to require readmission, this risk can be reduced by: 

  • Carefully following discharge instructions 
  • Being proactive about checking for any unusual issues during recovery 
  • Making sure healthcare providers have all the details of your loved one’s medical history so no oversights occur while providing initial care

A professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior who’s recovering after being hospitalized. When searching for reliable home care service agencies, families want to know their senior loved ones 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.

2. Uncontrolled Chronic Conditions

According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, diabetes, arthritis, kidney and bladder problems, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease are among the most common chronic conditions affecting the elderly. Seniors with chronic conditions that aren’t managed well are more likely to return to the hospital, especially if the chronic condition was the reason for the initial admission. Readmissions of this nature can be prevented by: 

  • Encouraging appropriate lifestyle adjustments (e.g., regular exercise, dietary changes) 
  • Seeking separate treatment for issues related to the chronic condition, such as abnormal blood sugar levels or inflammation around joints, so they don’t complicate recovery 
  • Being observant so you can spot signs indicating the chronic condition may not be under control

3. Complications from Surgical Procedures

Some older adults end up going back into the hospital because of complications related to surgical procedures. Delirium is a common but often undiagnosed complication in the elderly following major surgery. According to a study referenced by the National Institutes of Health, mental or emotional confusion (delirium) is the leading neurological complication for elderly people. The study’s authors suggest anesthesia quality initiatives may minimize this issue. 

4. Infections

Infections can easily become serious enough to warrant readmission to the hospital for seniors. Infections sometimes develop because of improper or insufficient wound care. At other times, seniors may not follow directions for taking post-surgery medication meant to prevent infections. Readmissions for this reason can be minimized by: 

  • Looking for signs of infection (e.g., fever, redness around the wound site, unusual wound discharge) 
  • Changing dressings as instructed 
  • Encouraging seniors to take their post-op medication even if they say they feel fine—this is especially important with antibiotics

A professional caregiver can closely monitor your loved one for post-hospitalization complications. Tucson senior 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.

5. Early Discharge

It’s increasingly common for hospitals to discharge seniors as soon as it’s determined they no longer need immediate care. However, being released too soon may put some seniors at risk for readmission. This risk may be mitigated by: 

  • Making plans to provide attentive care at home before discharge 
  • Ensuring all discharge instructions are followed 
  • Setting up the home in advance so it’s safe 
  • Taking advantage of in-home care services if you aren’t able to provide the type of assistance your loved one needs while recovering

6. Failure to Follow Recovery Recommendations

It’s perfectly understandable for seniors to want to get back to their normal routines as quickly as possible. However, there’s such a thing as doing too much too soon. Avoid the risk of readmission because of reinjury by encouraging your loved one to:

  • Provide feedback to his or her physical therapist so appropriate adjustments can be made 
  • Avoid being overly active until given permission to increase activity levels 
  • Accept the limitations he or she may have while recovering 
  • Report any new or unusual discomfort

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. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. To hire a compassionate, dedicated caregiver, call us at (520) 276-6555 today.


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