Nearly 13 million seniors are hospitalized every year. Unfortunately, about a third of patients 70+ and half of those 85+ leave the hospital more disabled than when they arrive. Therefore, until now, most seniors leaving the hospital would be destined for inpatient rehabilitation, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. But, if you’re one of these patients the only place you want to go is home.

For seniors in particular, recuperating from a hospital stay is challenging. Most leave weakened and need help with ADLs like bathing, dressing and even walking. The first 24-72 hours make the difference between long-term recovery and bouncing back to the hospital.  The patient also has to manage an after-care routine. This might mean new medications, monitoring vital signs and symptoms, and attending follow-up appointments and therapy.

Now, with advancements in home care and technology, many seniors can safely return home from the hospital. It just takes a little planning and the right services. Check out our examples below to see how to build an ideal discharge plan to return home safely.

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The “Discharge Danger Zone”: Planning for the First 72 Hours

The initial discharge plan needs to address logistical issue of leaving the hospital. How will you be transported home and when? Will you pick up new medications or wait for them to be delivered? What equipment is needed and when/how will you get it? A care manager helps you understand the different options and how they affect the timing (and success) of discharge. Read Linda’s story of her recent surgery to understand the difference having a care manager makes.

After leaving the hospital, the patient will be weak and vulnerable. This is a make or break time for successful discharge. Not only does it feel awful to find yourself back at the hospital, but you often suffer long-term issues. Planning for a safe discharge means having a caregiver during this period of vulnerability.

A Little Bit of Post-Discharge Help Goes a Long Way

Sometimes family members can fill this role, but it may be difficult. Without training on safe techniques, it’s easy for caregiver and patient to get hurt. Plus, let’s be honest, a lot of us feel uncomfortable having our son or daughter give us a bath or take us to the toilet. Fortunately, EasyLiving and other home care companies offer trained, experienced caregivers to help during this key time.

You also face logistical issues that can make the discharge experience uncomfortable, if not dangerous. For example, you need food and drink (maybe a special diet or mild foods). If you’ve been in the hospital for a while, your fridge probably needs to be restocked with fresh food. A caregiver can prepare the home…change your linens, restock the fridge, and do a load of laundry. Find out about the EasyTransitions package.

Home Sweet Home: Ideally Set Up for Transition

Having a one-on-one caregiver in the comfort of your home is an ideal way to recover. Patients used to go to an inpatient setting for monitoring after hospital discharge. Now, important signs and symptoms can be carefully monitored at home.

The discharge plan should include monitoring instructions. You may need to monitor temperature, frequency of going to the bathroom, eating/drinking, confusion, vital signs, specific symptoms, etc. All this and more can easily be done at home now. In-home medical technologies can even gather an array of data and communicate it directly to the doctor or nurse practitioner.

The home can be an extension of the hospital as patients recover. Caregivers can assist with bathing, dressing, and hygiene. Think of how much nicer it is to take a bath in one’s own home rather than a sponge bath or shower in a facility. Your personal caregiver can make sure it’s done safely and on your own timeframe. Patients tend to sleep better and feel more comfortable at home. There’s less risk of confusion, infection and other problems that often occur in facilities.

A Successful Follow-Up Care Plan

Medications meant to heal can cause harm if not taken correctly. Doctors usually prescribe new medications after a hospital stay. The patient isn’t used to the new routine. It’s easy to misunderstand instructions when you’re feeling lousy. But, many patients don’t need the level of nursing home medication assistance with a nurse passing meds to the floor of patients. A home care company can help set up medications in the home with a trained caregiver to provide reminders. Caregivers can also monitor for potential adverse effects.

Coordinating aftercare from home is easy with a little planning. A care manager can organize your follow up appointments and explain options/instructions. You’ll find a care manager is especially helpful thinking of the whole picture. Hospital staff focus on medical aftercare. Your care manager knows that timing and coordination are essential. Issues like meals and household needs can make or break the discharge as much as an obvious medical issue. You need good nutrition and safe, healthy environment to recover.

A caregiver can drive you to outpatient therapy appointments, follow up doctor’s visits and various treatments. The doctor may order skilled home health care to provide in-home services like physical therapy and a nurse to change your dressing or give injections. A coordinated plan helps all your providers work together for the best outcome.

Give us a call at 727-447-5845 for help putting together a safe discharge plan or for planning ahead for crisis prevention.