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7 Steps - when a Senior is Hospitalized

What to do During & After Hospitalization

1. Establish Communication with Hospital Staff

Unfortunately after a medical emergency most people find it difficult to know who to ask, what to ask and when to ask. No doubt you will have a lot of questions about your loved ones health, and the best time to pose those questions is when you have the medical team within your immediate reach. Every situation is different but things are typically hectic at first, especially immediately before and after admission.

To begin, identify your loved ones primary hospital doctor and the names of any specialists on their care team. The primary physician is in charge of coordinating the care and the staff members of providing the care ordered. Request a meeting but be sure to write down your questions. It reduces the risk of forgetting something important during the conversation. They are busy people and care for many patients, when you get a face to face be ready.

The case Manager, charge nurse or nurse manager can tell you everything that the doctor has ordered. After meeting with the doctor is is much easier to access the nurse for status updates and emerging questions.

Is is important to advocate for your loved one when they are likely unable to do so because of pain, medication, loss of consciousness or even competence. Interacting regularly with the care team will help ensure attentive high quality care. Go to as many care meetings as possible with your loved one and be sure to get any questions on medical concepts, expectations, medications and clarification addressed.

2. Learn about post-hospitalization care, medication & equipment

After hospitalization a patient of any age will need to have their health carefully monitored to prevent any further issues and even re-hospitalization. Typically the first 72 hours determine the likelihood of readmission, so get the information needed for a successful transition home.

  • Prescription medications usually are added to a seniors daily regimen, which can interact with other medications, foods and lifestyle.

  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or speech pathology may be needed.

  • Durable medical equipment may be needed due to decreased mobility and enhanced functioning safely at home.

Continued communication with your loved ones medical team regarding status updates and long-term predictions for their recovery and health is necessary.

3. Decide where the senior should live during & after discharge

Part of understanding your loved one’s health status and care needs directly influences the setting in which these needs can be met. The level of care they require will determine where they will be discharged to. Ideally, your loved one will be stabilized and deemed safe to return to their home without any major changes to their lifestyle, but that is not always the case.

Many seniors need high-level skilled nursing care in a rehabilitation facility to regain partial or total functioning before they can return to their home or even move in with a caregiver. This is often a short-term arrangement, but in other instances a permanent care and housing decision must be made. Perhaps it is no longer safe for the senior to live at home, in which case they will need to move to an assisted living facility or set up extensive help through an in-home care company.

Although most people would prefer to stay in their own house, it is important to realize that safety and quality of life are top priorities. It is a difficult decision, deciding whether or not a loved one should continue living at home, but it is an important one that most adult children and some spouses will face at some point in their lives. Knowing what options are available will help you make this decision confidently. AHS Home Care combined with private care is becoming a preferred alternative to long-term residences.

4. Make sure all Important Documents are In Order

There are several crucial legal documents that all adults should have in place—especially those who are in their golden years. Medical and financial powers of attorney, Personal Directives, Living Wills, Wills are all typically pieces of the all important legal puzzle for seniors and their loved ones. Do not let an uncomfortable situation keep you from talking with your senior about these critical documents.

5. Educate yourself on the senior's medical condition

It can be almost impossible to get the right information if you don't know what questions to ask. It can be very difficult to learn a significant amount about your loved one’s condition while they’re still in the hospital and you’re trying to iron out billing and post-discharge care. You’ll get a great deal of information from the hospital care team to help you make next decisions, but your work usually isn’t over once your loved one has been discharged. Learn all you can about their medical condition(s) and the medications they are taking. This is especially important if the senior has chronic and/or progressive illnesses, like COPD, heart failure or dementia. A solid understanding of their health is invaluable and makes you a strong and effective member of their care team.

6. Determine how your loved one will pay for the care.

in many families, discussing finances is taboo. As a result, adult children usually know little, if anything, about their parents’ financial situation. Caregivers often have more questions than answers when it comes to trying to figure out how medical bills will be paid. It is important to realize at this point in time that your loved ones finances are your business. The hospital social worker is your greatest asset when it comes to figuring out what insurance your loved one has, how much it will cover and what other programs might be available to help offset the costs of care both inside and outside the hospital.

7. Get Support for Yourself

Whether your loved one comes to live with you, lives at home with caregiver support or moves into a nursing home, it’s important for you to find the proper support to help you navigate this new stage of both of your lives. Take offers of support from friends, neighbours, church, social groups, wherever you can get it. Professional Home Care such as The Mad Tasker provides full on patient advocacy, transitional support and a wealth of resources to help you navigate the health and medical changes including providing respite for the caregivers. Maintaining your health and happiness directly affects the care recipients quality of life and longevity as well.

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