Despite proper medical attention and care from loving family members, approximately 15% of seniors are readmitted to a hospital within a month of their discharge. The good news is, however, that there are many things seniors and their family members can do to reduce this rate and minimize potential risk factors. Below are the top 5 reasons that seniors are readmitted to the hospital along with care tips to help prevent future hospital stays.
Why Seniors Are Readmitted to the Hospital
1. Failure to Follow Hospital Discharge Orders
Successful recovery from a hospital stay requires strict adherence to discharge orders, especially in the days and weeks following a senior’s release. Failure to follow discharge instructions can increase the likelihood of health complications, which can lengthen the recovery process or result in readmission.
Families who are unable to monitor compliance with discharge instructions can help their loved one by seeking a home care provider. Whether services are only needed during the initial weeks after discharge or for a longer period of time, a trained caregiver can provide medication reminders, assist with transportation to and from follow-up appointments, and deliver short-term respite care as needed.
2. Recurrence of a preexisting infection
When an aging loved one leaves the hospital after being treated for an infection, the last thing you would expect is to see a recurrence of that infection. However, 5% of seniors end up readmitted to the hospital due to a reemergence of symptoms for their preexisting infection. Among the most common infections are urinary tract infections and Clostridioides difficile, which causes diarrhea and colitis.
In some cases, seniors actually contract a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) while receiving care for an unrelated presenting problem, such as a broken bone. The incidence of HAIs is on the rise, with approximately 1 in 10 patients contracting an HAI as a result of their hospital stay.
Taking a proactive approach is essential to preventing infections from developing or recurring. It is helpful to know the symptoms of infection and seek medical care right away if you notice them. Common symptoms of HAIs include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Discharge from a wound
3. Poor Coordination of Care After Discharge
Coordination of care plays a key role in preventing readmission. Unfortunately, many seniors fail to follow up with their primary care doctor following their discharge. This trend is particularly pronounced in Medicare patients. In fact, nearly one-half of Medicare patients fail to see a primary care provider within 2 weeks of discharge from the hospital. In some cases, the discharge team does not proactively schedule appointments. But in other cases, appointments are scheduled but seniors fail to follow through with them.
There are 3 key ways to help improve care coordination.
- Try to make sure that follow-up appointments with primary care providers are scheduled before you or your loved one is discharged.
- Take steps to secure transportation to and from appointments.
- Provide reminders to seniors as appointment time approaches.
These steps will help ensure compliance with follow up appointments and prevent readmissions.
4. Fall-Related Injuries
Fall-related injuries are a looming threat for all seniors. But the risk of injury increases when seniors are in a weakened state following an illness or physical ailment that required hospitalization. Attempting to perform activities of daily living (ADL) that are necessary for self-care can become a challenge, especially if a senior’s mobility was still compromised after discharge.
You can help avoid falls by hiring a caregiver to provide assistance with personal care and routine errands. By helping with daily living activities, caregivers help safeguard against strain and overexertion that can increase the risk of falls and injury.
In spite of the many measures healthcare providers take to reduce readmission for pneumonia, 30-day readmission for pneumonia occurs in approximately 17 to 25% of seniors. Some strategists have tried to reduce this rate by identifying risk factors and recommending intensive transitional care to patients who exhibit them.
Other strategies to help prevent pneumonia include immunization, light physical activity, and adoption of healthy eating and sleeping habits. Additionally, it is important for family members and caregivers to be able to recognize pneumonia symptoms, which include persistent cough, high fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. Seeking medical care immediately is vital to preventing hospitalization. Seniors with pneumonia may also require specialized care and attention during their recovery.
The Key to Reducing Hospital Readmission for Seniors
As outlined above, there are many factors that contribute to hospital readmission among seniors. The single best step you can take to prevent readmission is to seek the services of a trusted home care provider. With the help and support of a trained caregiver, seniors can live independently in their own homes as long as possible.
Caring Senior Service can provide your loved one with the compassionate care needed to help reduce the likelihood of hospital readmission. Here are some of the services we provide to help achieve this goal:
- Encourage seniors to follow their hospital discharge orders
- Provide transportation to follow up appointments
- Remind seniors to take medications as prescribed
- Help seniors with activities of daily living (ADL)
- Encourage healthy eating and sleeping habits
To discover why families across the nation turn to us for professional care for their loved ones, we invite you to contact us. We look forward to helping your loved one maintain a happy, healthy life in the comfort of their own home.