Hospital to Home: The Importance of a Smooth Transition for Seniors

Hospital to Home: The Importance of a Smooth Transition for Seniors

After a hospital stay, whethershort or long, people appreciate the value of sleeping in their own beds. As wonderful as that may sound, there are a few things to consider regarding transitioning from a hospital back into the home. For many seniors, this process can be complicated, depending on their circumstances.

Seniors are of special concern during this phase, especially those who suffer medical conditions and are required to take different medications at varying times of the day. Sending someone from a care facility such as a hospital, where around-the-clock monitoring is prevalent, to an environment where little or no interaction occurs requires advance planning to ensure the transition is smooth and safe. What was previously simple becomes more complex during the recovery time.

Some things to consider include:
• The mobility of the senior.
• Medical conditions that may need monitoring.
• Administration of medicine.
• Nutrition and fluid intake.
• Future appointments with health care providers.

Attention needs to be given to the mobility of the person going home. Challenges in that area should be addressed and solved before less-mobile seniors arrive home. Ensure walkways in the home are clear. Remove trip hazards such as rugs. Rearrange extension cords so they are not a hazard. Handrails in the bathroom can prevent falls.

Seniors recuperating from an illness may need assistance identifying symptoms in the days and weeks after coming home from the hospital. Ask friends and relatives to take turns visiting the senior each day to ensure the senior’s health is on the rise and not declining.

Proper administration of medications is essential for seniors required to take them even for a short period of time. Sometimes, if multiple medicines are needed, seniors may need help remembering time schedules. If personal help is unavailable, make the senior a daily calendar with each hour depicted. Pill dispensers can be used for this purpose, as well, and are the best option for ultimate safety to keep medications organized and aid in preventing accidental overdose.

After returning home from a hospital stay, visits to health care providers are scheduled to monitor the progress of those on the mend. Help seniors remember these appointments by penciling them in your own calendar. Call them with friendly reminders, and accompany them to the visits.

This helps ensure that their obligations are met. It can also help keep caretakers in the loop regarding any new medical care regimens that may be directed.

Seniors returning home from a hospital stay may be on a limited diet. Even if they are not, preparing and eating dinner for themselves may seem overwhelming at first. Help out by shopping for food or preparing easy-to-heat meals that seniors can make with little or no fuss.

Maintaining balanced nutrition is critical for seniors, but can be especially important for those who have had recent health issues. Following these tips can help pave the way to a positive transition from hospital to home. Successful transitions help eliminate returns to the hospital, which are common when transitions are not well planned.

If you are unable to assist a senior in need, now might be the time to hire a home health-care provider, a person who can fill in the gaps when family and friends are not available — or simply need a rest.

Home-care agencies can attend to seniors in need on a full or part-time basis. They perform such duties as keeping things on schedule, personal care, cooking, light cleaning, running errands or simply by providing company to keep the senior’s spirits up.

Kristine Watson is general manager of Comfort Keepers, providing home health services to seniors and their families. Comfort Keepers is located at 1070 Marina Village Pkwy. Contact her at 239-4391 or