5 Strategies to Prevent Hospital Readmissions

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

A recent study published in JAMA revealed that over 20 percent of seniors are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. Being sent back to the hospital after just a few weeks can be detrimental to an older adult’s physical and emotional health. Here is a look at five strategies seniors and caregivers can implement to prevent hospital readmissions. 

1. Ask for Instructions in Advance

As a general rule, seniors and their caregivers should ask for aftercare instructions a few weeks before any planned treatments or surgeries. By getting the instructions early, you won’t have to worry about misunderstandings once you are back home. For emergency visits, caregivers and family members need to get multiple copies of the instructions and thoroughly study them before leaving the hospital. They should also get contact information for any doctors or pharmacists who were involved in the treatments. 

Caring for a loved one at home, especially after he or she has been discharged from a hospital, can be overwhelming at times. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Centennial, Colorado, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

2. Stay in Contact with Medical Professionals

Seniors and their loved ones should feel comfortable contacting doctors and nurses whenever they have any questions. If a doctor seems distant or unresponsive, you might want to consider going with another medical team. No matter how clear the aftercare instructions are, you will most likely have at least a few questions. Even if most of the information can be found online, you should make sure the doctor is devoted to outstanding outpatient care.

3. Finish All Medications

Unless you have been given different instructions by a doctor or pharmacist, all medications should be taken until they are completely gone. This is especially important for older adults who are taking antibiotics for lingering illnesses. Suddenly quitting a course of antibiotics could boost the strength of the germs and make them resistant to future treatments. Many seniors stop taking their medications once they start to feel better, but this can worsen the side effects.

A professional caregiver can remind your loved one to take medications on schedule and assist with day-to-day tasks. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Centennial Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. 

4. Schedule Follow-Up Appointments

Seniors often have a difficult time recovering from illnesses and injuries, which is why they are generally asked to schedule at least one or two follow-up appointments after a hospital visit. They must continue going to these appointments even if they are starting to feel better. Their medical team can help them steer clear of future injuries, infections, and readmissions. They can also update their aftercare instructions as their health continues to increase. 

5. Focus on Overall Health

Older adults should always keep a close eye on their overall health, but their lifestyle habits become especially important after a serious accident or injury. Everything from their sleep schedule to their diet can have a big impact on how quickly they recover and their risk of being readmitted to the hospital. Depending on what type of injury or ailment has taken place, the doctor should at least give basic instructions regarding your loved one’s diet and what activities he or she must avoid.

Make sure your elderly loved one has all the necessary support to recover efficiently and avoid hospital readmission. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same home care services. Centennial families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If you’re looking for a comprehensive at-home care plan for your elderly loved one, contact us at 303.957.3100 today.