Preventing Hospitalizations and Re-hospitalizations
Hospitals are wonderful when you need them. There is no doubt, however, that it’s better to stay healthy to begin with. No matter the skill of doctors and nurses, a health crisis is difficult. It’s hard for older adults to bounce back. And many never quite bounce back to where they were before they were hospitalized.
Preventing unnecessary hospitalizations, therefore, is one way to help your aging parents stay healthy and independent for as long as possible.
And if a hospitalization has occurred, increasing the chance of a stable recovery is a great way to avoid the setback of a re-hospitalization.
Here are ways to help your loved one manage his or her health conditions effectively:
Help your family member organize his or her medications so it’s easy to take the right ones at the right time. (See our article about managing medications.) Bring the medications to each doctor’s visit and make sure they are all still pertinent and that there are no conflicts. If a change in medication is advised, find out how that affects the others. Are there any conflicts? Any existing prescriptions that can or should be dropped? When should the new medicine be taken? How long should it be taken? Any side effects? Because medications change frequently, come up with a way to easily know/look up the most current schedule. See the suggestions to help you and your loved one keep track in our article about managing medications.
What method do you use to track medications? How do you keep the list up to date?
Rehospitalizations are unfortunately very common. Although your loved one may have been released to home, that doesn’t mean he or she is totally “out of the woods.” While your relative is still in the hospital, find out what doctor(s) he or she should see afterward for follow-up. Request that the hospital forward records to all of them. Before you leave the hospital, call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment for the next week. You may need to be firm with the doctor’s receptionist. Explain that your loved one has just been hospitalized and needs to have a follow-up appointment to be sure he or she is not getting worse.
Which doctor is the most appropriate to see for a follow-up? The primary care physician? A specialist?
Once a diagnosis has been made, find out more about the illness. Ask the doctor to explain it so you understand what parts of the body are having trouble and why. If there are terms you don’t understand, ask for clarification. You can also look up your loved one’s condition on Medline Plus for seniors. This website is published by the National Library of Medicine. It has large type and is written in easy-to-understand language. You might also wish to look at our article about educating yourself.
Do you have questions about your loved one’s condition? What resources might you consult to help you find answers? The doctor? The discharge planner? The Internet?
Ask the doctor to group symptoms as “green light” for normal recovery, “yellow light” for early signs of a possible problem, and “red light” for a significant problem. Find out what to do and who to call in case of yellow light or red light symptoms.
Do you feel confident in your ability to spot a problem developing? If not, ask the health care staff for help.
Many chronic conditions improve dramatically with changes in diet or exercise. Stopping smoking is one of the bigger lifestyle changes that can improve health and keep your loved one out of the hospital. But these changes are not easy. And nagging will only build resentment. In the spirit of collaboration, however, you can still support your loved one to make what changes he or she can. Even little steps add up. Consider reading our article about supporting a family member to change in “Your Changing Role.”
Falls and car accidents. Injury is a common cause of hospitalization for older adults, in particular, falls and automobile accidents. See our articles about preventing falls and driving safely.
Medications. Problems with medication frequently result in a fall and therefore injury. Taking too many pills, not the right ones, or taking them in the wrong combination can cause your family member to feel dizzy and lose balance. Helping him or her manage medications well is a great way to reduce the risk of injury and hospitalization.
Burns. Burns are an unexpected source of injury for seniors, but are in fact the second leading cause of injury death for older adults.
Burns can come from house fires—nearly half of which start in the kitchen—or from scalding water. Older adults have thinner skin, so they burn easier and do not recover as readily.
Reduced sensitivity in older adults can cause them not to react quickly when there is a problem, so they are exposed to the heat for longer and sustain a more serious burn. For instance, all it takes is 3 seconds of exposure to water that is 140° to cause a burn serious enough to require surgery.
Ways to prevent burns
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries regularly.
Set water heaters to no more than 120° (a bit less than the medium setting).
Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Have an escape plan with alternate routes in case of a fire.
Never leave the kitchen when frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food.
Turn pot handles so they face the back of the stove.
Wear short-sleeved shirts or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
Have falls been a problem in the past? Do you have concerns about your relative’s driving? Are there precautions you can take about burns?
AZ Care Management Solutions sponsored a caregiver day of renewal on 5/6/23. A vendor fair, chair massages, and presentations along with a light breakfast, lunch and giveaways were included. Thank you!
After my mom fell and broke her hip, I was alone in trying to figure out how to best care for her in this maze of what is the senior health care industry.I had been trying to pull together what felt like 1000 pieces of disparate information......places to see, insurance companies, doctors to call, forms to be filled out, questions to answer. I was completely overwhelmed and under much stress.I am so incredibly thankful that I finally called Bonnie and scheduled a consultation. She was clear, knowledgable and so understanding. She immediately started making phone calls to find out the answers to some of my questions, and knew the answers to the other ones.I ended up asking her for further help and I will be forever grateful I did.She helped me move through a very difficult time with her knowledge, presence and help. She was there when I needed her and she knew exactly what to do. And she is fair, compassionate and has great integrity.My mom is now in a perfect place for her, and it all happened with as much ease as was possible.Thank you Bonnie, and everyone else we interacted with at AZ CareManagement.I don't know how I would have managed this journey without you.
Bonnie and Bob at Arizona Care Management went way above and beyond in helping me place my sister in a care facility to live out her last few months. Bonnie set up a medical transport from Newport Oregon to Arizona so that my sister could spend her final days looking at the beautiful scenery she cherished so much as a park ranger. The home in Cottonwood was well staffed and professionally managed and Bonnie and Bob made sure everything ran smoothly as I am on the east coast and care coordination was difficult to manage for me. Thank you both again for all you have done for my sister and our family during this difficult time.
I own two assisted living homes in the area and have worked with Bonnie, Bob and their staff several times. They always have the best interest of their client in mind when finding a long term solution for the family. It has always been my pleasure to accept one of their clients into my home. They continue to stay in touch with the family and assist them with any need they might have.If you are in need of an Elder Care advisor, I wholeheartedly recommend Arizona Care Management Solutions! If you live out of our area, you can count on them to fill in when you can't be here in person!
I live in Massachusetts and my 92 year old dad lived in Sedona. I was called in to take over his care because he could no longer live independently. I literally did not know where to turn. A social worker recommended Bonnie and her team to me. What a relief. They helped me get the necessary paperwork to handle his affairs while also finding him a safe and loving environment where he got the care he needed. He thrived there for nearly 6 months. During that time, I was kept abreast of his health and care by Holly. He enjoyed his visits with her and the treats she brought with her! I highly recommend Arizona Care Management to anyone needing help with their loved ones. They are excellent and I’m so glad they were recommended to me.
As the owners of GENERATIONS SENIOR LIVING LLC, we have the opportunity to work with Bonnie, Bob and the rest of the team at AZ Care Management Solutions with some frequency. Bonnie is absolutely the hardest working person we know! She has the knowledge base and the support team behind her to truly advocate for your loved one and they do a very good job! From assisting with POA paperwork, in-home care, assisting with MD appointments, or actual placement of your family member into a facility...... these guys can get it done!!! We highly recommend them.... Josh and Jamie Elliott
Most of us do not have any experience or training on how to make decisions or select assisted living accommodations. This group was a life saver in selecting a care giver, legal restructuring and finding a home. This was my first time dealing with dementia and I was guided down the path with their professional staff.
When I was having a hard time getting my dad's assisted living place to respond to his needs Gina stepped in with a firm hand and made things happen on Dad's behalf. She is kind, dedicated, tenacious, and extremely experienced and knowledgeable in this field. Bonnie has helped facilitate communication between me and a family member from whom I am estranged to make sure that all family members have access to the information about Dad that they want to have. AZ Care Management has been absolutely VITAL to me in helping me get difficult things done for Dad. I can't imagine navigating these challenging waters without them.
When our daughter was moved to Cottonwood for more extensive care, my husband and I were not able to travel for frequent dr. visits. We were not able, because we are both in our 80s, to visit as frequently as we wanted. AZ Cares takes her to appointments. They also provide very personable and capable assistants who take her on outings to provide social and emotional support for her in our absence. I cannot praise them enough for the support and help they have given our daughter and us. They are a blessing to us!
Arizona Care Management Solutions did a great job keeping my mom as safe as possible in her home for the last year. Once Gina came on board, she managed to do what I thought would be impossible - she convinced my mom to transition to living arrangements that would provide the care she really needed! Gina held her hand every step of the way, even through some VERY challenging situations. This lady has a heart of gold and can get things done!
As a Geriatrics/Internal Medicine specialist I relied on Bonnie and staffto find the best outpatient care for our patients. Her heart is passionate for the care of our seniors, and regards that as her mission in life. And I wasalways confident that Care Management Solutions would find the bestoptions for our families. God bless her! Dr. Paul C. Hanson of Cottonwood Internal Medicine
Bonnie, Bob and the team at AZ Care Management Solutions simply go above and beyond as advocates for seniors. Whether you may need assistance coordinating care, evaluating local facilities for placement, creating a plan for aging well or many other elder care services, you will find no organization more qualified or prepared to assist you than AZ Care Management Solutions. As a local Medicare insurance broker for several years, it is paramount that my clients have the right people in their corner. I have - and will continue to - recommend Bonnie and Bob and their team to any of my clients without hesitation.