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Caring for a Senior Who’s Recently Been Discharged From the Hospital

senior leaving the hospital

For the average American, a hospital admission can be a stressful time for both the patient and caretaker, whether due to coronavirus (COVID-19) or something else. But recent studies indicate that for seniors, the real danger of the visit is in the 30-day window that follows a hospital discharge, and these studies don’t include the risks of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) at the hospital, which is essential to consider. During this recovery period, families and caregivers often need to take extra measures to ensure that they fully understand the medication that their dependent is taking, the instructions they’ve been asked to follow once home, and countless other variables to support the best return to health. Ensuring that all the healthcare professionals involved in a senior’s post-hospital care plan are on the same page and asking the right questions is a tedious process for most caregivers—especially for those who have additional responsibilities. Fortunately, there is a new solution for these caregiving needs, and it starts with DispatchHealth. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the importance of post-hospital care for seniors who have been recently discharged and the benefits of relying on the on-demand medical professionals at DispatchHealth for any acute medical developments and streamlined continuity of care. 

Concerns With Post-Hospital Care for Seniors

The stress involved with checking into an unfamiliar hospital setting, potentially being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19), and enduring a slow recovery after discharge can take a toll on virtually every system in the body (healthy or not). For seniors, these stressors can be especially harmful during the recovery period after a hospital discharge. Why? As we age, our immune systems are weakened and exhaustion can begin to fog the sharpest minds. Not to mention, seniors are some of the highest risk individuals for contracting coronavirus (COVID-19). Healthy and familiar routines then become essential for successful senior care. When these routines are disrupted or elderly immunities are compromised due to an illness or injury, important care details can be forgotten and the body’s system can take a heavy beating. The mental and physical exhaustion involved for seniors after a hospitalization can thereby increase the risk of developing health complications. Here’s a list of some of the most concerning issues of post-hospital care for seniors:

  • Transportation. Depending on the significance of the illness or injury, arranging transportation for a hospital discharge could be required, especially since seniors should be maintaining social distancing guidelines as much as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For seniors, this is almost always the case—requiring assistance from loved ones who may not be familiar with the healthcare guidelines.
  • Malnutrition. Forgetfulness is an unfortunate side effect of the aging process, especially for those elders who have just gone through a trying situation in an unfamiliar hospital setting. Loss of appetite and malnutrition are some of the biggest consequences of this forgetfulness and both are very common during and after an illness. 
  • Deconditioning. After a lot of bed rest, the aged body can quickly start to decondition and impair physical abilities by weakening muscle strength. This can be particularly dangerous for seniors who live alone, as the potential to stumble and fall can be heightened.
  • Medicine mishaps. The transition from hospital to home involves a lot of moving pieces, including a plan for continuity of care and prescription directions. These can get lost in translation for those seniors who live alone and are just beginning to readjust to normal routines. 

Signs and Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

After your elderly loved one is discharged from the hospital, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) that they could have contracted while in the hospital’s care. While hospitals are doing the best they can to sequester coronavirus (COVID-19) patients away from the rest of the population, mistakes can happen, especially as hospitals are generally short-staffed across the nation right now. Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your elderly loved one after they return home from the hospital: 

  • Cough
  • Fever or chills 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle aches
  • New loss of taste or smell 
  • Sore throat
  • Headache 
  • Congestion or a runny nose 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea 

Some signs and symptoms warrant an emergency response. Those include trouble breathing, new confusion, a persistent pain or pressure in the chest, the inability to wake up or stay awake, and bluish face or lips. 

Tips for Caregivers on Post-Hospital Care for Seniors

Understanding the risks involved with post-hospital care for seniors is one of the best ways caregivers can provide a level of assistance that is both healthful and helpful. This doesn’t necessarily require an in-home, 24/7 nurse, but it will require a certain level of patience and time from the caregiver in question. Here are some ways you can help your elderly dependent get on the healthy road to recovery after hospitalization:

  • Self quarantine. After hospitalization, seniors can experience a compromised immune system. Keeping visitors to an absolute minimum and encouraging in-home activities throughout the duration of their recovery are some of the best things that you can do to prevent hospital readmission, especially right now during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Gradually reintroduce routines. As previously mentioned, routines are extremely important for seniors. The switch back to home after hospitalization can be a complicated process, especially if recovery requires timely medication. By gradually reintroducing these routines with recovery requirements, the caregiver can avoid medication mishaps, accidental malnutrition, and anxiety.
  • Understand continuity of care. Extra care will be necessary during your senior’s recovery process after hospitalization. This may require frequent doctors appointments, physical therapy, and a strict diet. Try your absolute best to create a continuity of care plan that bridges all of these needs; it will help you and your dependent navigate recovery between visits and ensure accurate information is shared between doctors.

Following these guidelines can seem overwhelming and extremely tedious. However, they can help seniors avoid the stress of another hospital admission—a consequence that can negatively impact an already compromised immune system.

The Difference On-Demand Care Can Make

Avoid the stress of post-hospital care for seniors with acute medical needs by seeking solace in DispatchHealth’s innovative services. We do healthcare differently by providing medical care to high-risk individuals in the comfort of their homes. For seniors who have been recently released from the hospital, this continuum of care is ideal, as it caters to those with potentially compromised immune systems or who are restrained to the confines of their home. 

patient treated in home

Benefiting from our on-demand service is simple; all you need to do is contact us via phone, website, or mobile app. In a few hours, our team of medical professionals will be at your doorstep equipped with nearly all of the tools and technologies found in a traditional ER setting. What’s more, our teams will take thorough notes during each patient visit, ensuring continuum of care is streamlined and accurate information is delivered to those in your senior’s healthcare network. We even accept most major forms of insurance—including Medicare and Medicaid—keeping costs low and a healthy recovery the priority. We’ve also updated protocols to keep our staff and patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about our on-demand healthcare services and the benefits, contact DispatchHealth today!

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.agingcare.com/topics/157/hospital-discharge
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4194477/
  3. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/post-hospital-care-155508.htm

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