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Senior couple receives hospital discharge instructions from a doctor using a computer tablet.

Plan a Smooth Hospital Discharge and Return Home for Seniors

Nobody enjoys being a patient in the hospital. As you get older, it’s the one place you dread the most. Whether it’s an overnight visit or an extended stay at the hospital, the time away from the comforts of home can challenge a senior’s physical and mental health.

After coming home, the last thing they want is a return trip to the medical facility.

Unfortunately, this scenario is a sad and common reality for many individuals over the age of 65. Roughly 20% of seniors on Medicare are readmitted within 30 days of a hospital discharge due to preventable factors such as:

  • Medication issues
  • Not following diet recommendations
  • Falls and accidents
  • Missed medical appointments
  • Certain diseases such as heart issues, diabetes, stroke

Reduce hospital readmission risks by learning what questions to ask and understanding why professional home care can be vital for seniors after a stint in the hospital. 

Questions to Ask During a Hospital Discharge

The hospital discharge process often feels onerous, and seniors and their caregivers may leave confused. A smooth process—and getting clear instructions—can help reduce the odds of a hospital readmission.

Here are some questions to ask before your senior loved one leaves the facility:

  • What do I need to know about their condition before discharge?
    Make sure you get all information about your loved one’s condition from the hospital staff. Understand what they have been diagnosed with and what kind of care they received in the facility. Learn which symptoms will require follow-up from a medical professional.

  • Are there any changes to medication?
    Medication errors are one of the main reasons seniors get readmitted to the hospital. Ask the hospital staff to provide you a list of prescribed medications. Make sure you understand the dosages and recommended times. Also, confirm which medications your loved one should no longer take.

  • What upcoming appointments are needed?
    Get a list of upcoming medical appointments and mark them on your calendar. Follow-up appointments will help a doctor confirm recovery is on track and prevent a return trip to the hospital. If possible, try to attend these appointments with your loved one.

  • What additional support is recommended?
    Many seniors need non-medical support — such as help with mobility, bathing or dressing, and other household tasks — following a hospital stay. Ask hospital staff what kind of in-home care support your loved one requires. Also, find out what tasks they should do on their own. Not being able to do these tasks could be a sign of worsening health.

  • Can the hospital provide written, step-by-step discharge instructions? 
    Make sure to get clear, easy-to-understand documented instructions from the hospital before discharge. If you can’t comprehend the instructions, review them with the staff. Make copies so both you and your loved one have the same information and, if necessary, rewrite them so they can easily follow.

In-Home Program for Seniors After a Hospital Stay

Many family caregivers underestimate the support needed for seniors to continue on the road to recovery. As a result, the care at home doesn’t go according to plan and ends with a return to the hospital or an emergency room.

With proper support and planning, you can reduce the risk of re-hospitalization. For extra assistance, consider enrolling in the Visiting Angels’ Ready, Set, Go Home program. The specialized service helps seniors transition from a hospital to a home setting safely and effectively, enabling your loved one to recover in the comforts of home.

Experienced caregivers will provide seniors with:

  • 24/7 in-home care
  • Monitoring and reporting changes in condition
  • Medication reminders
  • Arranging and attending medical appointments
  • Preparation of nutritious meals to meet dietary requirements
  • Assistance with activities of daily living

Our Visiting Angels’ care coordinators are available to discuss your loved one’s needs during and following a hospital stay via a free care consultation.

If you're interested in more information about how in-home care can help your senior loved ones, contact your nearest Visiting Angels office today or call 800-365-4189.
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