The prospect of going to the hospital is not something that anyone looks forward to, but having to go back after you have just been released can be extremely disheartening. There are many different factors or complications that may result in a return visit to the hospital, but it typically involves either poor planning, inadequate follow up, or a combination of the two.
Seniors are at a greater risk for hospital readmission after discharge, due to diminished strength, mobility, and possibly impaired cognitive function. The strength and durability of our immune systems also decline with age making reinjury and infection a higher possibility. Overcrowded and understaffed hospitals also means that in many cases, patients are released sooner than they are really ready for it. Having a well-designed plan in place beforehand can help ease the transition from hospital back home.
It is not always possible to plan in advance in the case of accident or unexpected illness or injury, but even in these cases preparations can be made, to help prevent interruptions in the healing process that can very easily result in setbacks and having to go back to the hospital.
Frequent Factors that can Result in Returning to the Hospital
There are all kinds of things that may incur a return visit to the hospital much sooner than you’d hoped. Some of the most common reasons for hospital readmission, include:
- Poor planning
- Inadequate follow up
- Not adhering to rehab program
- Nutritional deficiency
- Medication problems
- Insufficient support and assistance
This is amongst the most prevalent factors for hospital readmission. If you know in advance that you are scheduled for surgery or treatment, then making a comprehensive plan for discharge is highly recommended. This includes arranging transportation, preparing the home for optimal recovery, and making sure you have the help you need to begin healing.
Even in the case of an emergency visit, if you are staying for an extended period, preparations can be made from the hospital to help prevent complications upon release. Professional hospital discharge assistance is available through a home care agency to help ensure the whole process runs smoothly and the post-release care you need is readily available.
Inadequate Follow Up
Even if the transition back home is a smooth one, there are still follow up steps to be taken to keep recovery on track, prevent regression, and ensure there are no hindrances. It most cases, you will be asked to follow up with your physician or healthcare specialist within a week to 10 days after being released from the hospital. Often, this is just a routine check up to make sure there are no problems, but it still very important to help catch anything you may have missed.
Rehab Program Diligence
When recovering from surgery, injury, or illness, it is essential to follow assigned rehab exercises closely to make good progress. Half-measures are not going to cut it when it comes to physical rehab, especially for older adults. The physical decline that occurs with age also means it takes twice as long with more effort required to recover from an injury. Sticking to the recommended exercise with diligence and purpose helps prevent reinjury, joint stiffness, and muscle pain. It also helps to improve mobility, strength, and flexibility to allow an independent lifestyle.
Eating well goes hand in hand with rehab exercises for proper healing. While the body is recovering it requires more nutrients to do so, and if you are not eating the right foods to provide them, it is detrimental to the process. You should be targeting foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein, like veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and quality fish and poultry. Foods that are high in fat, sugar, and that are heavily processed offer little to no nutritional value.
Medication complications are another very prominent issue that spark the need for hospital readmission. After being released from the hospital, it is common to be issued new prescriptions to prevent infection and aid in the healing process. Many older adults are already taking medications for various ailments, and adding more into the mix can cause confusion and possible complications if all medications are not compatible.
Creating a detailed medication schedule for better medication management can be very beneficial.
Another crucial aspect of injury or illness recovery is having the right support and assistance in place to facilitate the process. Trying to do too much because there is no one there to help is a definite risk for reinjury. On the other hand, if there is no one there for encouragement and support it is easy to neglect rehab exercises. Family are friends are a great resource for support, but if more help is needed, the assistance of a professional caregiver can be obtained for as much assistance as is required.