After-Hospital Care for Seniors: What Families Should Know
When an older adult is admitted to the hospital or rehabilitation facility, it can be a stressful and overwhelming time for them and their family. However, what many families don't realize is that the most challenging part of the process may come after the hospital stay. These care transitions are a critical time for seniors. Without effective care coordination, the risks of infections, avoidable emergency department visits, and other complications increase significantly.
Discharge planning involves preparing your loved one to leave a care facility and ensuring that they receive the proper care and support they need once they return home or move to a new senior living community. CarePatrol’s expert senior living advisors are here to discuss what families can do to ensure a smooth transition and how to find the best senior care options for their loved ones.
Establish Lines of Communication with their Care Team
As soon as your loved one is admitted to the hospital, start getting to know their medical team. This team can help identify your relative’s needs and create a plan of care for when they leave the hospital. You can find out who your loved one’s primary physician is by asking the nurse manager. Be sure to get the names of any specialists on the team as well.
Open communication is crucial here—ask any questions you need to during this process to ensure you understand your loved one’s condition and treatment options. Write down questions as they occur to you so you don’t forget. You may find it easier to speak to the nurses than the busy physician, but don’t be afraid to speak up anytime you or your loved one need help, clarity, and guidance.
Learning all you can about your loved one’s medical condition(s), medications, and more will help you advocate for them and feel like a true member of their care team.
Learn About After-Hospital Care & Equipment Needs
Speak with the medical team about the level of care your loved one will need after discharge, as well as any specialized services that may be required. It’s important to follow these instructions exactly, so don’t forget to take detailed notes. You might write them down in a notebook, ask the physician if you can record your conversations, or request written documentation.
These conversations will help you understand whether your loved one will be able to return home after their stay. It’s important to take into consideration all the factors that go into caring for a person after a hospital stay, including:
- Any skilled nursing services they will require, such as physical therapy or speech therapy
- Their mobility and ability to safely move through their home environment
- Medical equipment they may need for mobility and daily activities
- Medication management, following the doctor’s orders precisely
- Nutritious meal preparation that will support their recovery
- Wound care & personal hygiene
Understand Insurance Coverage
It's important to understand your loved one's insurance coverage and what services will and won’t be covered. Start by determining whether they have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Then, you can speak with the insurance company or a social worker at the hospital to determine what services will be covered and what out-of-pocket expenses you should expect.
These conversations can feel awkward or even taboo, but they’re an important part of a care planning strategy. If you don’t know about your loved one’s financial situation, the hospital social worker should be able to help you determine what coverages they have.
A senior living advisor can also connect you with local resources and programs that can help you cover or offset the costs of care.
Prepare the Home
If your loved one is cleared to return home, it may be necessary to make modifications to the environment to ensure their safety and comfort. This may include installing handrails, removing tripping hazards, or adding a ramp for wheelchair access. Speak with the medical team about any necessary modifications and how to arrange for them.
Safety and quality of life are the top priorities for any senior recovering from an illness or injury. And because many seniors need skilled nursing care after they are discharged, it may be time to think about senior living options. There are many high-quality assisted living communities available to take care of their needs seamlessly while still supporting an active, healthy, and independent lifestyle.
While it’s a difficult decision, it’s important to be realistic about the level of care you can provide. Knowing your options can make this process easier—and that’s where a senior living advisor can make a huge difference.
Explore Senior Living Options
There are many different types of senior living communities, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facilities. Often, nursing homes are a temporary arrangement for seniors who need extensive care to recover from their injury or illness. After that, they may transition to a long-term care option like an assisted living community.
Researching all of the options available in your area and determining which would best meet your loved one's needs can feel overwhelming. A senior living advisor can guide you through this process and provide personalized recommendations based on your loved one's needs, preferences, and budget.
Whether you know your loved one needs additional care or you’re not sure yet, a senior living advisor will be an advocate during this process. In this pressure-free environment, you can gain an independent perspective and expert advice for your unique situation. CarePatrol offers this guidance at no cost to you, so you can feel confident in your decision.
Contact Your Local Senior Living Advisor
Discharge planning can be a complex and overwhelming process for families of elderly patients. However, with the guidance of a senior living advisor, it is possible to find the best care options for your loved one. Don't wait until the last minute to start planning—contact a senior living advisor today for personalized recommendations and peace of mind!
CarePatrol: Find the Best Senior Care Near You
With over 150 locations across the country, CarePatrol is a network of highly trained, local senior living advisors ready to help their communities. We’ve vetted thousands of local senior living communities and are ready to help you find the right choice for your loved one.