Seniors recovering at home without after care management are much more likely to end up being readmitted to the hospital. Any doctor or nurse can tell you, it takes a lot longer for someone over 70 to heal from surgery, fractures, or being hospitalized for illness than it does a child or young adult. Much of the healing happens at home, after the senior is released from the hospital or a rehab facility. Memory impairment, multiple medical conditions, and even an older person’s refusal to admit they cannot completely manage on their own, can all contribute to senior recovery mistakes and create barriers to successful home recovery.
Seniors are often left home alone to recover, without adequate supervision after release from hospital care. Senior recovery mistakes result in everything from painfully slow or improper healing, to expensive returns to the hospital resulting from avoidable infections, anemia and malnutrition, even re-injury.
5 Biggest Senior Recovery Mistakes You Can Prevent
When the elderly patient comes home from the hospital, a family caregiver or professional home helper has the opportunity to make sure these detrimental senior recovery mistakes do not happen.
Skipping medications or not following medication instructions. There are various reasons your spouse or parent skips or stops taking his medicine at home, despite doctor’s orders. Learn the most common reasons, and help the patient overcome them and stay on schedule with his prescription drugs.
Improperly managing the wound site. Bandages need to be changed; wound areas need to be kept clean and dry. A caregiver needs to check the wound site regularly for signs of swelling and infection. Or the patient may develop a fever after she gets home. Seniors may forget to check the wound site, or assume a dangerous infection will “go away by itself”.
Missing follow-up appointments. The primary caregiver should go over the care plan before leaving the hospital and make sure their home care provider keeps track of follow-up appointments.
Poor nutrition & skipping meals due to fatigue or loss of appetite. Skipping meals may occur any time, but during home recovery is when unsupervised seniors are most likely to stop eating well. New medications may produce mild nausea, your loved one may be too weak to prepare a meal, or food shopping after surgery may be too tiring.
Overusing the injured area or not doing physical therapy. Both overuse and under use of the injured area can cause hip fractures and other injuries to heal very poorly. Supervise the senior to make sure they are following instructions and cooperating with the physical therapist and not putting too much weight on the injured area.
How Senior Recovery Mistakes Affects the Family
Recovery typically follows a six-step progression and can require anywhere from a few weeks to several months. As you move through discharge and home recovery, make sure you know who is on your recovery team, from doctor through home care agency. Staying on top the 5 most common senior recovery mistakes people make at home will give your loved one best chances of a safe recovery and the best chances of avoiding costly, frightening returns to the hospital.