Don’t Leave a Loved One Stranded: Why to Get Help for Seniors After a Hospital Discharge

If your senior loved one made it through a traumatic medical event that left them hospitalized, or a long recovery at a rehabilitation center, you may be delighted about the fact that they are coming home. You look forward to seeing them safe in a familiar environment once again, and grateful they’ve made it through these last few distressing days, weeks, or months.
However, in all your relief over their imminent arrival, don’t forget that home help for seniors after a hospital discharge is crucial. In many cases, it’s a key factor in keeping them safe, healthy, and maintaining any functional abilities they currently have. Without such help, their entire facility stay could be for nothing – or worse, can leave them at risk for an even direr predicament than the one that landed them there in the first place.

Why help for seniors after a hospital discharge is so important

It’s important that seniors have the right services after they go home, because although they may be returning to a familiar environment, they’re not exactly the same person. Their bodies, capabilities, and even cognition may have changed. Things they used to accomplish with ease may have become major challenges.
For example, if they have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) that has worsened, it can leave them short of breath and fatigued for most of the day. They may even have to move about with an oxygen machine, which can greatly limit their mobility. Essentially, if the right help is not procured – or not procured in time – for serious ailments, it can put the senior at risk.

What types of help are available for your senior?

There are many different types of assistance available to your senior after a discharge, and which ones you decide upon are usually dictated by that senior’s particular needs. For instance, if your senior was put in the hospital because their diabetes worsened, they may need a visiting nurse to change and dress diabetic wounds. If they suffered a heart attack partially due to poor diet and need a healthy meal plan, a nutritionist may be in order. If they fell and broke a hip, regular physical therapy visits may allow them to regain their strength. Finally, if they had a stroke and suffered irreparable paralysis, a home health aide can perform their household tasks and personal care.

How do you set up senior discharge services?

Once you know your loved one’s discharge date, you can begin preparing for the services he or she is likely to need. Of course, this can be an overwhelming task if you’ve never done it before. The good news is, the hospital or facility social worker or discharge planner should do some or most of it.
But it’s important to know that such a planner’s job is to focus on the senior’s most immediate needs after discharge. In other words, they may set up an initial physical therapy consultation or visiting nurse evaluation, but after that, it’s up to you and/or your senior to follow up. This may involve additional therapy visits following the visiting nurse’s recommendations, or securing long-term assistance from a home health aide.
A good rule of thumb is that after seeing how it goes with your senior for a few days or weeks, you’ll be better prepared to help them decide which services they may need on a permanent basis. Be sure to discuss any plans you may have with professionals already visiting the home, and of course, the senior’s primary care physician.

Help for seniors after a hospital discharge is crucial

Help for seniors after a hospital discharge (or from an acute or sub-acute rehabilitation center) is crucial for maintaining their health and well-being. Without it, they can fall prey to many dangers in and around their homes – even ones for which they were well-prepared prior to admission. However, with a little preparation, your senior can enjoy the care they deserve in the comfort of their own home – hopefully for a long, long time.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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