Post Hospital Care For The Elderly
How To Avoid Complications That May Lead To Readmission
Post-hospital syndrome is a widespread phenomenon that can result in as many as one in five patients suffering from illnesses that are not directly linked to the acute illness that got them into hospital in the first place.
As hospital stays are generally getting shorter, elderly patients are at greater risk of falling ill, particularly within the first 4 weeks after being discharged. The reason for this is that at the time of discharge, patients are often weak and the body cannot effectively defend against health threats.
The most common causes of readmission are pneumonia, infection, and cardiac distress.
Caregivers play a vital role in preventing readmission. Here are some guidelines that Caregivers can implement.
Your loved one is likely to have a weakened immune system after surgery and other in-hospital treatment. It is important, therefore, to keep them away from potential sources of infection, such as young children and relatives with flu or even the common cold. Even pets can be a source of infection. Until they have fully recuperated it is wise not to expose your loved one to inclement or extreme weather conditions.
The caregiver must be on the lookout for any untoward changes in the patient’s health or behaviour. These warning signs may have no obvious connection to the original malady but should nevertheless be immediately reported to your doctor.
It is important that your loved one eats properly, focussing on nutrient rich foods and a varied diet. This will help enormously to build up their immune system.
In the initial stages of recuperation solid foods may be difficult to swallow and process. In this instance clear broth and strained soups are excellent options. Also, smaller meals taken up to five times a day are likely to be preferable to three big meals.
Rest and relaxation are essential for the recently discharged patient and your loved one should not rush into resuming a full day’s activities.
Exercise & Mobility
Within the limits of the doctor’s instructions and the nature of the illness, it is preferable to have your loved one moving as soon as possible. Even short walks are beneficial. At the same time, one should take care not to rush them into activities that may result in stress, falls and accidents.
Lift Mood to Aid Recovery
Don’t neglect your loved one’s emotional state. A regular bathing and grooming routine, a vase of flowers and controlled visits from close friends and relatives, as well as quality companionship can all play a part in lifting the patient’s mood.
In conclusion, it is important for all the parties involved in your loved one’s convalescence to understand that the initial period of recuperation is potentially very risky. Vigilance, sensitivity and a common sense approach will, however, minimise the risk of readmission.