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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