Mom has major surgery on Tuesday, and then is discharged and sent home on Friday. Though it may seem severe, it happens all the time. Procedures that once kept patients in the hospital for several days, now often involve only a one or two-night hospital stay. Regardless of the forces driving this trend, the end result is undeniable. People are being sent home from hospitals “quicker and sicker” than was the practice several years ago.
Families often face this dilemma; feeling inadequately prepared for the realities of their loved one’s transition from hospital to home. Most family members have full-time jobs and small children at home to tend to, which makes this even more difficult. To help in the planning process, here are a few post-hospital concerns that families need to be prepared to monitor:
Studies suggest that nearly 40% of patients over 65 suffer from medication errors after leaving the hospital. A simple med box prefilled with the proper doses can make a significant difference, but it is not always enough to ensure that the patient consistently remembers to take the right medications at the right time.
Often the patient is not motivated to eat healthily throughout the day and may not have the energy to prepare adequate meals. Even if family and friends provide a nutritious supper, breakfast and lunch can easily get neglected.
Falls are a common cause of re-hospitalizations. Practical steps should be taken to minimize fall risks in the home.
Post-hospital days can be discouraging and even depressing. The patient will need social and emotional support to help her stay motivated and engaged in her recovery process.
Simple tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting can be a daily challenge for someone who just had major surgery.
Some patients may be inclined to do too much too soon, while others may not be motivated to get up and move around at all.
During the recovery process, the garbage will still need to be emptied, the dishes washed, the laundry cleaned, and so forth.