If you are a caregiver for a senior who will soon be discharged from the hospital, it's important to plan for a smooth transition. Whether the senior has been hospitalized for a planned surgery or an unexpected illness or injury, being prepared for their return home can help prevent an unnecessary readmission.
We created this quick checklist to make it easier for you to plan for your loved one's safe return home.
Checklist for Making a Safe Transition Home from the Hospital
It's important to ask if your loved one should consider transitioning to a skilled nursing and rehab center to continue their recovery. If they meet the criteria, Medicare will cover their care in full for up to 21 days. (Longer stays may be partially covered by their Medicare benefits.) If the senior doesn't meet the criteria, is outpatient therapy through a home health agency an option?
Medication and medical supplies:
Make sure you understand what medication your loved one will need to take and what, if any, medical supplies and equipment they will need. For example, if they've been newly diagnosed with diabetes, what do they need to have at home to stay on schedule? If they will require oxygen or wound care supplies, will you need to order them or will the case manager or social worker from the hospital assist?
Will your loved one need to adhere to a special diet? If so, do you know how to prepare meals that meet their nutritional needs? You might want to explore meal planning apps that help you quickly organize meals for your senior loved one. CookSmarts and MealBoard are a couple to explore.
If you will be responsible for wound care or other types of follow-up care, make sure you are comfortable with the tasks. Ask the nurse to show you the process and take notes you can refer to once you are home.
Most people who are discharged from the hospital will need to follow up with their primary care physician and any specialists involved in their care. Be sure you know who you will need to schedule appointments with after you return home. If the physician is new to your family member, make certain you have the physician's contact information.
Signs to watch for:
This is an important part of a senior's successful transition home. Make sure you discuss the signs and symptoms that might indicate they need to be seen by their physician immediately. Spotting changes early may help your loved one get the intervention they need to avoid being readmitted to the hospital.
Health Resources for Seniors
To learn more about aging issues ranging from prevention to fitness, we invite you to visit "Health Resources for Seniors."
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