Caring for Elderly Patients After Hospital Stays

elderlywoman-in-hospital-300x219.jpgCaring for elderly individuals involves many surprises, not all of them good. This can be especially true during and after a senior's hospitalization. Caregivers often feel anxious about the outcome of in-patient treatments and naturally breathe a sigh of relief when the day of discharge arrives. Yet many seniors find themselves back in the hospital again soon after - and not always with the same issue that sent them in.

According to Medicare statistics, almost 20% of senior citizens return to the hospital within one month of leaving the facility. Those taking care of elderly patients need to be alert for signs that their recently-discharged loved ones may need further hospital care.

Why re-admittance?

Why do so many elders find themselves back in the hospital after they thought they had been cured? One big reason is that while they may have been successfully treated for the condition that put them in the hospital, they may also have picked up or developed another issue that causes further trouble.

For example, Father may have had a heart ailment that needed immediate attention. The doctors worked diligently to address the issue and Father went home feeling, if not 100%, at least much better. Once at home, however, he began complaining of aches and ran a high temperature. It turned out that he had an infection which then needed additional care.

Health impacts

A lot of factors can impact a person's health during a hospital stay, such as being in a strange environment and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed. Many patients also experience worry and stress that negatively affect their ability to sleep. Once they do drowse, they may be awakened to take a pill or to have their vitals checked. Such sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on immune systems.

When you consider that hospital patients are often give medications that make them feel a bit "out of it" and are further disorientated by not being able to get out of bed or attend to their normal routines, it's easy to see why many have poor reactions to hospital stays.

Be watchful.

That foggy feeling can continue once seniors try to get re-acclimated to their homes. Those taking care of elderly individuals need to take a few steps when welcoming seniors home:

Build them back up. Good food and good rest is definitely called for. Make sure that patients get back to eating properly and get a proper amount of sleep. At the same time, plan some simple and appropriate physical activities. Senior muscles may need some help getting back up to par after a hospital stay.

Keep illness away. Friends and relatives with colds or other illnesses need to be kindly but firmly kept away until the patient is properly recovered.

Go slow. Recovering seniors need to get back into a routine, but don't push. Figure out ways to ease a loved one back into things at an appropriate speed.

Stay alert. Keep an eye out for possible problems and let a doctor know about any potential issues that could be developing. Nipping a complication in the bud may prevent a return to the hospital.

Taking care of elderly loved ones after hospital stays is challenging. Home caregivers may want to consider enlisting extra help during this period.​


There are no comments on this post.
Looking for advice?

Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.

Sign up for advice

Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.

Please select at least one newsletter.
Valid email address is required
View sample
View sample
View sample