After Being Discharged from the Hospital
Hospitalization is stressful for older patients and their families. Patients often don’t sleep well at night because they are away from their home, and family members lose sleep because they are worried about the health and welfare of their family.
Coming home from the hospital can be equally as challenging for older patients and their family members. The primary goal is to prevent any sort of relapse or setback that might send the patient back to the hospital, as readmission causes even more stress and discomfort for everyone.
If you plan to provide care for a family member or friend after being discharged, you can start reducing their risk of readmission while your family member is still in the hospital. Talk to hospitalists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals before your family member leaves the hospital. Continue the conversation with your family member’s regular physician and healthcare professionals after discharge.
How to Care for Your Family Member after Hospital Discharge
Educate yourself about your family member’s illness.
Arming yourselves with information about the condition can improve your family member’s recovery. Start by learning the correct name of the diagnosis, and find out if it is a new condition or a flare-up of a chronic condition. Learn about treatments for the condition and any possible complications.
Determine what you and your family member should expect after discharge.
Will your family member need multiple medications, for example, or will they need increased assistance with their daily activities?
Review your family member’s prescriptions with their medical team.
Many patients become confused and may end up taking both the old and new medications, which can result in serious side effects. Bring in any medication bottles your family member used prior to the hospitalization so you can compare the new medication names, doses and administration schedule with the old ones. This can help your family member take the right medications after discharge and avoid taking any that are no longer needed.
Learn about your family member’s medications.
Learn the names of the medications, the dosing schedule, intended effects and possible side effects. Some medications require routine blood work to monitor their effects. Be sure to contact the pharmacist or medical team with any questions or concerns.
Administer medications as scheduled once you bring your family member home. Even one missed dose of some drugs, such as antibiotics or blood pressure medications, can significantly increase the risk of readmission.
Adhere to your family member’s treatment plan.
A treatment plan is the set of instructions healthcare professionals use to provide care for patients. Sticking with the treatment plan improves the chance of a good outcome. Your family member’s treatment plan may include prescription drugs, physical therapy exercises, special diets and more. While your family member is still in the hospital, ask the nurses and hospitalists to detail the treatment plan you should use at home.
Monitor your family member’s condition.
You may need to check your family member’s blood pressure, for example, or determine if a wound is healing correctly. Before your family member leaves the hospital, ask the nurses and other hospital professionals to show you how to monitor your family member’s condition, and determine how often you should implement that care.
Be aware of the risk of readmission.
Most readmissions occur within 15 days of hospitalization, but about one-third of all readmissions occur between 16 days and 30 days after hospitalization. People who are older or less stable are at a higher risk of readmission. Some conditions present a higher risk of readmission.
Know when to get help and whom to call.
Learn the warning signs of relapse or complications. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers next to your home phone or in your contact list. Maintain a second list of people you can call with non-urgent questions or concerns.
Consider a short stay program for your family member.
In a short stay program, wellness professionals provide care, comfort and engagement for your family member as they transition from the hospital to home. Basic short stay programs offer a comfortable room, nutritious food and medication administration.
Gull Creek offers those basic accommodations and much more. During your family member’s stay at Gull Creek, they will enjoy personal assistance by a 24-hour wellness staff, a fully furnished apartment, three meals prepared by a chef daily, all day dining, housekeeping and personal laundry and linens, complimentary cable television and Wi-Fi, and access to all the lifestyle programming and amenities available at our beautiful senior living community. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a tour.