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3 Key Reasons to Help Your Clients Avoid Preventable Hospitalizations

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March 4, 2015

When a senior breaks a bone or has a heart attack, a hospital can be the safest place for them. But entering the hospital also carries certain risks. Senior care professionals observe that seniors who go into the hospital may not go home the same. Sadly, they may not even go home at all. That’s why it’s imperative for the elderly to avoid preventable hospitalizations.

A preventable hospitalization is one where steps could have been taken to monitor and manage symptoms, prevent an accident, or correctly follow a physician’s orders and thus avoid the need for a trip to the hospital.

A recent survey  conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, revealed that almost half of all hospitalizations could be prevented, according to nurses who specialize in senior care. The nurses surveyed also identified the top risks of hospitalization for the elderly and why prevention is so important. Here are three good reasons to help seniors avoid preventable hospitalizations.

1. Seniors are at risk of hospital-acquired infections

Many elderly people have weakened immune systems due to poor nutrition, medications or other causes. This makes them less able to fight off common infections that lurk in hospitals like MRSA, pneumonia and other bugs. Picking up one of these infections can have life-threatening consequences. Avoiding preventable hospitalizations reduces a senior’s exposure to these germs.

2. Once hospitalized, seniors often do not regain full function

Seniors may find it difficult or even impossible to restore muscle tone after being immobilized in a hospital bed. A hospitalization that results in muscle wasting can have a lifelong ripple effect. Weak muscles can lead to falls and other problems. Helping to keep seniors out of the hospital through prevention education can help them maintain their functionality.

3. Seniors who have been hospitalized have a hard time getting back into their routine

While a younger person may bounce back quickly from a hospitalization, the same isn’t always true for seniors. As a person ages, his or her ability to adapt to changes in routine falters. The disruption caused by staying in the hospital can lead to confusion and other cognitive declines that make it difficult to get back to regular life at home. Avoiding preventable hospitalizations helps seniors stay well-grounded in their daily routines.

Of course, no one would suggest an elderly person should avoid going to the hospital if he or she has experienced a life-threatening event, such as a possible heart attack, stroke or broken bone. Hospitals still represent a senior’s best chance for surviving these emergencies. Seniors should always seek a clinician’s advice if they’re unsure about the appropriate care for their situation.

By helping your clients understand the risks of preventable hospitalization for seniors, you may spur them to more closely monitor chronic health conditions, attend routine doctor appointments and comply with doctor’s orders. Visit the Prevent Senior Hospitalizations section of CaregiverStress.com for additional resources and information.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. March 26, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Posted by Hui Ting

    I find this article useful.

    Reply

  2. March 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Posted by Val

    I am a 71-year-old, female self-employed Therapist. Just want to comment on the matter of seniors staying out of the hospital as long as possible: I was recently hospitalized as a result of an automobile accident. I was transported directly from the scene of the accident to the nearest hospital (not the hospital where my PCP was located). Once there, I was treated with respect because I was completely alert/oriented (although quite traumatized). I was poked, prodded, x-ray'd, MRI'd, scanned, etc. for two (2) days. I felt I should have been able to go home after being kept over night. However, I was cautioned not to leave AMA! There were several tests that I do not believe I needed and medication was prescribed that I do not believe was needed long term. During my stay, I cautioned a couple of PCT's re. not cleansing their hands or wearing gloves during the course of preparing to provide service for me. I observed the lady in the bed next to mine (asleep most of the time) receiving care that she was unable to supervise. Overall, the stay was far more traumatizing than the accident. I got no rest because I believe every doctor in the facility was sent in to see me (they call it consult...wink, wink). I was finally kept the additional day because they said they could not find the two specialists they needed to sign me out (this is a very large, well-known, well-respected hospital). And they had to keep me an extra day because they could not find the proper doctors to sign me out???????? Again, if this had not been an accident transport, I would not have voluntarily gone to the hospital. I find that there is absolutely no substitute for preventive, self-care measures to prevent hospitalization as long as possible.

    Reply

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