Preventing Hospitalizations and Re-hospitalizations
Hospitals are wonderful when you need them. There is no doubt, however, that it’s better to stay healthy to begin with. No matter the skill of doctors and nurses, a health crisis is difficult. It’s hard for older adults to bounce back. And many never quite bounce back to where they were before they were hospitalized.
Preventing unnecessary hospitalizations, therefore, is one way to help your aging parents stay healthy and independent for as long as possible.
And if a hospitalization has occurred, increasing the chance of a stable recovery is a great way to avoid the setback of a re-hospitalization.
Here are ways to help your loved one manage his or her health conditions effectively:
Help your family member organize his or her medications so it’s easy to take the right ones at the right time. (See our article about managing medications.) Bring the medications to each doctor’s visit and make sure they are all still pertinent and that there are no conflicts. If a change in medication is advised, find out how that affects the others. Are there any conflicts? Any existing prescriptions that can or should be dropped? When should the new medicine be taken? How long should it be taken? Any side effects? Because medications change frequently, come up with a way to easily know/look up the most current schedule. See the suggestions to help you and your loved one keep track in our article about managing medications.
What method do you use to track medications? How do you keep the list up to date?
Rehospitalizations are unfortunately very common. Although your loved one may have been released to home, that doesn’t mean he or she is totally “out of the woods.” While your relative is still in the hospital, find out what doctor(s) he or she should see afterward for follow-up. Request that the hospital forward records to all of them. Before you leave the hospital, call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment for the next week. You may need to be firm with the doctor’s receptionist. Explain that your loved one has just been hospitalized and needs to have a follow-up appointment to be sure he or she is not getting worse.
Which doctor is the most appropriate to see for a follow-up? The primary care physician? A specialist?
Once a diagnosis has been made, find out more about the illness. Ask the doctor to explain it so you understand what parts of the body are having trouble and why. If there are terms you don’t understand, ask for clarification. You can also look up your loved one’s condition on Medline Plus for seniors. This website is published by the National Library of Medicine. It has large type and is written in easy-to-understand language. You might also wish to look at our article about educating yourself.
Do you have questions about your loved one’s condition? What resources might you consult to help you find answers? The doctor? The discharge planner? The Internet?
Ask the doctor to group symptoms as “green light” for normal recovery, “yellow light” for early signs of a possible problem, and “red light” for a significant problem. Find out what to do and who to call in case of yellow light or red light symptoms.
Do you feel confident in your ability to spot a problem developing? If not, ask the health care staff for help.
Many chronic conditions improve dramatically with changes in diet or exercise. Stopping smoking is one of the bigger lifestyle changes that can improve health and keep your loved one out of the hospital. But these changes are not easy. And nagging will only build resentment. In the spirit of collaboration, however, you can still support your loved one to make what changes he or she can. Even little steps add up. Consider reading our article about supporting a family member to change in “Your Changing Role.”
Falls and car accidents. Injury is a common cause of hospitalization for older adults, in particular, falls and automobile accidents. See our articles about preventing falls and driving safely.
Medications. Problems with medication frequently result in a fall and therefore injury. Taking too many pills, not the right ones, or taking them in the wrong combination can cause your family member to feel dizzy and lose balance. Helping him or her manage medications well is a great way to reduce the risk of injury and hospitalization.
Burns. Burns are an unexpected source of injury for seniors, but are in fact the second leading cause of injury death for older adults.
Burns can come from house fires—nearly half of which start in the kitchen—or from scalding water. Older adults have thinner skin, so they burn easier and do not recover as readily.
Reduced sensitivity in older adults can cause them not to react quickly when there is a problem, so they are exposed to the heat for longer and sustain a more serious burn. For instance, all it takes is 3 seconds of exposure to water that is 140° to cause a burn serious enough to require surgery.
Ways to prevent burns
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries regularly.
Set water heaters to no more than 120° (a bit less than the medium setting).
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Have an escape plan with alternate routes in case of a fire.
Never leave the kitchen when frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.
Turn pot handles so they face the back of the stove.
Wear short-sleeved shirts or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Have falls been a problem in the past? Do you have concerns about your relative’s driving? Are there precautions you can take about burns?
I work for NBT Bank and Becky has worked with one of our clients for many years now. Her and her team go above and beyond the call of duty everyday to help her clients achieve the best quality of life possible. From coordinating doctor appointments, cleaning and repair services, making emergency visits, and assisting with many various tasks that have come up in the past several years. The team members truly take an interest in their clients lives and build a true relationship with them which makes such a positive impact. The exemplary and dependable service Inspire Care provides has greatly improved the quality of life of our mutual client and I'm sure of many others as well.The opinions and advice offered within this account are my own and do not reflect that of my employer NBT Bancorp or any of its primary business units.
Completing the Life Plan by Inspire Care has given me and my spouse peace of mind. The content is well organized and thorough. They've thought of everything! There is even the option of completing the Life Plan in a digital version. The "Plan" is divided up into user friendly and manageable sections including financial, medical, legal information and "end of life wishes." We now have all of our important information in one place. We also appreciated the in-person meetings (via zoom) that provided opportunities to share our progress, ask questions and receive lots of positive encouragement. Now completed, it will be easy to review and update. We highly recommend this program!!
Becky and her company was an answer to prayer for me and my family. My father and father-in-law both ended up in assisted living before they died.Becky not only helped us find the correct facilty but she helped our extended family and both Dads navigate some very difficult transitions.I would recommend her company to anyone who is caring for a senior. There is a lot to learn ,alot of trials and a lot of emotion during this stage of life-You don't have to do it alone!
I recently had to go through the incredible difficulty of sorting out my aging Mother's complicated financial picture as her power of attorney. I decided then, that I also had to find a much better solution for organizing the complexities of my own life plan. I needed to do this not only for my wife, if she survived me, but for our children in the event of our passing together. We were blessed to come upon the "Life Plan" program by Inspire Care of Central New York. The plan book and online program offered us the perfect solution for our situation. We completed the plan together and now feel extremely comfortable that we have all the pieces of our finances and life wishes in place. This program is a must have for anyone interested in finding simple, organizational solutions for their life plan!
My name is Matthew Steenberg. My family had the opportunity to acquire Inspire Care of CNY to coordinate all of our father's medical needs! Reflecting back over the course of time with our dad, and the relationship he/we had with the company, it was priceless! The personal care for our father was incredible! Visitations by the Therapists, by Rebecca, were always valued and productive. The advice for addtional support and followup discussions regarding our dads care were exemplary! And,I might add that Inspire Care was always available 24/7 for any questions or emergencies that needed attention! The company also worked extremely hard to establish relationships with all of the persons who would be with our father during his daylight and nighttime hours. Custodial staff, nurses, facility directors, anyone associated with our dad's care were connected. Inspire Care created a team around our dad. The experience was very impressive! Additionally, the mentoring that they offer the caregivers was very insightful and so comforting. Inspire Care not only cared for our father, but also very importantly cared for us! Care for all in the world of meeting the needs of our aging lov ed ones! In perspective, we don't know what we would have done without the professional loving care they provided to all of us in the family. It is without hesitation that we highly recommend Inspire Care of CNY to anyone or family that is seeking five star management and expertise in the care of their loved ones!
Becky and Inspire care has been an absolute blessing with our Mother who is suffering from dementia. Not only the in home care provided but the guidance given helped us to navigate the process to move her to into a long term care facility where she is now thriving. We absolutely could not have done this without the care, help, and guidance from Inspire.
Provided an immediate, and long term, in-home care solution for our beloved relative—and eventually spearheaded the skilled nursing facility admission process. Provided highly professional and compassionate service and advice from start to finish.
Inspire Care was so wonderful to work with in my mother's final years. Becky was with us from the early days when we were looking for someone to share a few meals and leave a few in the fridge for our Mom who lived alone but was showing early signs of dementia, through a broken hip and eventual 24x7 care.Having an experienced team in Inspire Care to help us navigate was SO helpful during stressful times. They helped us find and work with agencies and businesses that we would have struggled to navigate without their experienced guidance.
We have cultivated such a wonderful partnership with Inspire Care. Becky, is extremely thorough with much attention to detail thatperhaps one thought wouldn't matter. The Inspire care Team leads with such professionalism and have such compassion for their clients. We value & embrace the partnership we have created the entire team .
I have known Becky Auyer and Inspire Care for over 10 years. I have recommended her to many friends and families.About 7 years ago, I hired her to help me with my parents. (I recall thinking I was a super hero, and I could do this well all by myself!)Early on, she helped me to navigate both of my parents getting off the road. That was a tremendous hurdle for our family and much needed for everyones safety.She helped us in the house with safety measures, meds, doctor appointments and check ins when I was away on travel.In 2017, my parents moved to senior apartment living. She helped us with that process, as well as helping us with mobility issues that both parents now had.Over the last 5 years, with COVID, my mother suffering numerous falls, rehab, and several hospitalization, Becky and her staff were always a phone call away. Becky, Gwen, Sharon, Deborah and Cheryl, all pitched in with daily treatments, showers, physical therapy, and sometimes taking turns at the hospital. This gave me so much comfort knowing they could help me in so many ways.During the 1st 6 months of 2022, both of my parents died at home with hospice, family, and the Inspire Care team helping us every step of the way.In a lot of ways, these last 12 years was the toughest job I ever had. I don't regret it, but I know I couldn't have done as well as I did without Inspire Care by my side until the end.
Inspire Care of CNY cared for both of my aging parents in the final stages of their lives. Becky and her team were FANTASTIC. We faced many challenges--moving my parents out of their house and into a retirement community, and then confronting various issues as their health failed. I don't know how we would have survived that phase of life without their patient, kind, and knowledgeable support. The support was for my parents, but also for us, their adult children. I wish I could give more than five stars!