Hospitals save lives. But you’d be hard-pressed to find many people eager to spend time there.
Most medical professionals agree that staying healthy enough to avoid a hospital stay should be the ultimate goal. That’s especially true for older adults. Professionals who work with seniors often observe that older adults who are hospitalized don’t always go home the same. Or, they don’t go home at all. Perhaps you are an aging adult who is concerned about these issues. Or you’re caring for someone who is.
Several potential risks or after effects of hospitalization could hit older adults particularly hard, according to a survey of 400 North American nurses who specialize in senior care and conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchiser of the Home Instead® network. Leading the list is hospital-acquired infections followed by difficulty getting back into a routine, more health declines, confusion and inability to regain full function.
Dr. Carolyn Clevenger, clinical director of the Integrated Memory Care Clinic at Emory University and past president of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA), explains how the potential issues surrounding hospitalization can jeopardize the health of older adults.
“Even if you’re well, hospitalization can be life-threatening. A day in the hospital typically includes considerable bed rest, which could be dangerous to an aging body that already is experiencing decreased circulation and loss of muscle. A cascade of negative things might happen, keeping you from returning to normal and possibly leading to nursing home placement.”
A hospital stay may be necessary and beneficial. But if there are ways to safely avoid it, most seniors and their caregivers are all for it. There’s one powerful factor in helping keep older adults out of the hospital: support. Nearly 100 percent of the nurses surveyed agreed that a family’s role in keeping seniors healthy and out of the hospital is as important as that of the medical community. In spite of that, less than half of the older adults (48.6%) they see have family members who serve as active advocates for their care, according to the survey.
The research conducted by Home Instead, Inc., revealed these five preventative actions that could help keep an older adult out of the hospital:
- Work with a trusted medical practitioner
- Don’t ignore symptoms
- Reduce risks of falls and accidents
- Stay active physically and mentally
- Maintain a healthy diet
Whether you’re an aging adult, a family member or another advocate, like a professional caregiver, watch out for the warning signs, risks and preventative measures that could help keep a senior out of the hospital.
For more information and resources, reach out to Senior Services at 989-633-3700. If you’re looking for a way to stay on top of your health, we have a wide variety of low-cost fitness and balance class opportunities for all experience levels! Check out the online calendar at SeniorServicesMidland.org/fitness-calendar/.