Mom has major surgery on Tuesday. She is discharged and sent home on Friday. Procedures that once kept patients in the hospital for many days, now often only allow for a one- or two-night hospital stay. Regardless of the forces driving this trend, the end result is undeniable—people are being sent home from hospitals “quicker and sicker” than was the practice several years ago.
Families are often faced with the dilemma of feeling inadequately prepared for the realities of their loved one’s transition from hospital to home. They most likely have full-time jobs and their own immediate family responsibilities which make the balancing act more challenging. To help in the planning process, here are a few post-hospital concerns that families should be prepared to monitor:
Studies suggest that nearly 40% of patients over 65 suffer from medication errors after leaving the hospital. A simple pill box prefilled with the proper doses helps, but is not always enough to ensure that the patient consistently remembers to take the right medications at the right time. Keep medications in plain sight so they are not forgotten and try to schedule them along with other daily activities so they are not missed.
The patient may not be motivated to eat healthy throughout the day or may not have the energy to prepare proper meals. Try to keep healthy, easily accessible food items on hand.
Falls are a common cause of re-hospitalizations. Be prepared to minimize the risks of falls in obvious places like the bathroom or kitchen where floors may get wet, and of course any staircases.
Post-hospital days can be lonely and even depressing. The patient will need social and emotional support to help stay motivated and engaged in his or her recovery process.
Simple tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing and getting to the bathroom can be difficult and exhausting for someone who’s recovering from surgery.
Some patients may be inclined to do too much too soon, while others may not be motivated to get up and move around at all. Plan some light activities each day to build strength. This can be as simple as walking around the house.
During the recovery process, plan to stay on top of tasks such as taking out the garbage, washing dishes and doing laundry.
The hospital’s discharge planning department will likely be a valuable source of information on local Medicare companies and rehabilitation facilities. If the patient is not sick enough to justify admission to a rehab facility and not strong enough to thrive only on what Medicare visits can accomplish, family members and trusted friends can help navigate their challenges.
Shortened hospital stays are the new reality. With some planning, families can provide the needed help to give Mom or any loved one the best recovery possible. If you need help with post-operation planning, we invite you to call MAS Home Care today.