Nearly one-fifth of all Medicare patients in the United States who are discharged from the hospital end up returning to the hospital within 30 days. There are many reasons seniors may need to be readmitted to the hospital, but some re-admissions are avoidable.

Research shows that seniors who have caregivers at home are important in helping seniors overcome some of the main preventable causes for returning to the hospital. Here are some reasons why seniors may be readmitted:

  • When you consider that, on average, seniors with chronic conditions fill 50 different prescriptions annually, it is not difficult to imagine how someone could get confused about the new medicines prescribed by hospital medical staff.  The current medications along with newly prescribed medication can make following the medication schedule confusing, not to mention drug interactions.  Caregivers can not only remind seniors to take medications as prescribed, but they can also help seniors keep a list of those medications and their dosages so the information is readily available when the older adult visits the doctor.
  • Failing to follow up with the primary care physician after a hospital discharge is also a main reason for hospital readmissions. A full two-thirds of patients readmitted to the hospital would have avoided that trip if they had seen their physicians within two weeks for follow up. The reasons for not following up vary but can include transportation difficulties and forgetting to make or keep appointments. Caregivers at home can help the senior by setting up appointments for the individual before discharge, and then help ensure that the senior gets to those appointments on time.
  • Having a discharge plan for the senior before he or she leaves the hospital can be crucial for recovery, but when a person is ill, it is difficult to focus on critical information. Caregivers can make an impact when armed with the senior’s discharge plan. They can help the senior follow the plan and notify the family or other approved individuals when there are problems or changes with the senior. They can also help explain the information or ensure that the appropriate persons are notified if the older individual has questions about his or her course of treatment. This takes the stress off of the senior so he or she can focus on recovery.

While some seniors may have family and friends to help them once they leave the hospital, many do not. In such cases, it is important to ensure the senior has an advocate or a professional caregiver who can give the assistance needed for at least the first 2-3 weeks of post hospitalization.  Organizations such as Old Dominion Homecare provide such services whether a family member needs respite, lives far away, is working or just needs additional help.  Visit www.Olddominionhomecare.com for more information on our services.

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