by Alison Bender Kellner
It’s a tale many of us regrettably see – the marked decline of a senior loved one after a hospitalization. Rather than having a full and successful recovery, some seniors returning from the hospital fail to regain their pre-hospital level of health and activity. This can lead to a debilitating downward spiral.
The best protection against this post-hospitalization decline is to practice prevention that keeps seniors from ever having to go to the hospital. In a recent survey of 400 nurses who work primarily with the elderly commissioned by Home Instead, nurses suggested that nearly half of hospital visits can be prevented. By taking these five preventative actions, seniors can reduce the risk that they will end up in the hospital:
- Follow doctor’s instructions
- Don’t ignore symptoms
- Reduce risks of falls and accidents
- Stay active physically and mentally
- Maintain a healthy diet
For seniors who live alone, this can be a challenge but family members can play an important role to reinforce these steps. According to nurses polled in the Home Instead survey, the role families play in keeping seniors out of the hospital is just as important as the role of the medical community.
As the owner of a home care company serving Rockland County, I see firsthand the positive impacts of increased engagement by families in their senior loved ones’ care. Even if family members don’t live nearby, they can still be advocates by staying in close touch with neighbors, doctors and other community mechanisms in order to gauge how their loved one is doing. And of course regular ‘check-in’ phone calls with the senior are important. ‘It takes a village’ is no longer just about raising children – it also pertains to keeping older parents safe.
By getting more involved in your loved ones’ care, you are much more equipped to recognize early warning signs. You can more easily notice when prescriptions go unfilled or pills go unused, and you will see the subtle changes like changes in appetite or reduced mobility – signs that may be indicators of more serious issues that, if go unchecked, will lead to a hospitalization.
Alison Bender Kellner is the owner of Home Instead Senior Care, a non-medical companionship and home care agency serving all areas of Rockland County. Home Instead CAREGivers provide medication reminders, transportation to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, meal preparation and social interaction with seniors so they can remain safely in their homes. Home Instead Senior Care is offering “Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations,” a free resource with information about common risk factors and the steps that families can take to help ensure a healthy lifestyle. For more information visit PreventSeniorHospitalizations.com or call (845) 353-6000.