Avoiding hospitalization is a priority for many seniors. Even if it's for something minor, a trip to the emergency room can be a traumatic experience that may have a long-lasting impact on health. A study by Home Instead Senior Care found that about half of senior hospitalizations can be prevented.
Doctors agree that a family's role in keeping seniors healthy and out of the hospital is an important factor to keep in mind. After being discharged from a hospital many families find that their senior loved ones are more frail, confused and dependent on family members for assistance than they were before being admitted to the hospital.
"A senior's risk of hospitalization increases when they wait too long to see doctors," says Betsy Miller, owner of Home Instead Senior Care Orange Park. "Many seniors also don't follow doctor's orders and skip preventative measures."
It is important not to ignore warning signs such as a simple ache or pain, which is why it is important to have families as involved as possible. "Living alone or not having someone to check in on a senior can really put them at risk," says Betsy.
It's also important for older adults to take steps to cut down on trips to the hospital, especially when it comes to fall prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 more than 2.5 falls amount older adults were treated in emergency rooms with more than 30 percent of patients hospitalized. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults 65 and older.
There are a number of ways for retirees to implement fall prevention into senior living. The CDC, recommends that exercise with a focus on balance and flexibility, such as tai chi, is among the best options for gaining balance and control. Some of the best ways that families can reduce the risk of falls include making the home free of hazards, encouraging the use of assistive equipment and checking in on loved ones regularly.
"With population aging, and relative reductions in severe health problems among younger age groups, the amount of senior patients in the emergency room is likely to increase," says Dr. Charles Phillips of the Orange Park Medical Center
Home Instead compiled a top five list on how to prevent senior hospitalization:
For more information visit PreventSeniorHospitalizations.com and MakingHomeSafeForSeniors.com
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise is independently owned and operated.