The last thing that any hospital patient and their family wants, no matter the age, is a sudden and unexpected return trip to the hospital or the emergency room. In-home medical care can help seniors released home from the hospital with things like medical treatment, therapy, and help with the essential daily activities of life. Whether it’s a new diagnosis of an illness, recovery after surgery, or an ongoing terminal or chronic illness, home health care can provide an invaluable service in keeping you home and out of the hospital.
Home health care, which is also referred to as visiting nurses, is a service that sends registered nurses and nursing aides to your home to provide skilled care. Doctors will sometimes recommend this after hospitalization and can include wound care, medication management, IV therapy or physical, occupational, or speech therapy, palliative care, and more. A doctor’s referral is required and services will typically be covered by Medicare and most private insurance plans.
We all know the unfortunate ease with which seniors can end up in the hospital or emergency room. Without someone present to monitor their progress after a stay in the hospital, or be around to make sure they’re taking care of themselves, it’s sadly far too easy for a senior to become a frequent visitor to the emergency room.
We would all prefer to spend as little time as possible in the ER, but for seniors it’s even more important. Seniors in hospitals are at increased risk for infection. And for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other memory issues, there is an increased risk of disorientation or depression. So the question is how can seniors avoid ending up making a return trip to the hospital after their original stay, and how can they be helped with that by home care?
Data from the National Council on Aging tells us that one in four Americans aged 65 or older falls every year. And every 11 seconds an older adult receives treatment in the emergency room for a fall. Older adults who have returned home after even a short hospital stay can be severely weakened from spending a lot of time in bed. This can cause them to be unsteady on their feet, which makes falls an even greater concern.
An in-home physical therapist can assess the mobility of a patient, and help with strengthening exercises, as well as coaching a senior on using assistive devices for mobility, such as crutches or a walker. Home care can also remove fall hazards from the home, making it safer for seniors. A member of a home care team can evaluate the home to assess any areas that could cause a risk to unsteady seniors, or install adaptive equipment like railings, grab bars, or shower chairs.
Post hospitalization, many doctors will prescribe specific medications or activities for a senior to take during their recovery at home. Home care can help with explaining and administering aftercare, as well as ensuring medication compliance and settling into a new routine.