It’s no surprise that older adults account for most hospital stays, and discharges compared to other age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 85 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and nearly 60 percent live with at least two conditions. Complications that arise from living with a chronic health condition often send an older adult to the hospital. Other common reasons why an older adult may be admitted to the hospital include elective procedures or infections, such as pneumonia.

No matter the reason an older adult is admitted to the hospital, the goal in most cases is to get the patient back to their previous level of functioning. Most doctors want this to happen as quickly and safely as possible to reduce the risk of infection. It’s also better for the patient to recuperate outside of the hospitable walls, either at home or at a short-term care facility meant to support transitional care.

If you or a loved one has a hospital stay in the future, here is a little more about what you can expect upon their discharge.

Discharge Planning

Throughout your hospital stay, your care team will monitor your progress. As you heal or recover, your doctor will determine when you are well enough to discharge from the hospital. A discharge from the hospital doesn’t always mean that you are fully recovered. However, a hospital stay is for patients who need high medical attention. Once you no longer need such involved care, it’s time to transition.

Your family and your care team will work with a hospital discharge planner to determine the next steps. It’s important that hospital patients have at least one trusted family member to help them through this process. You may need to transition to a rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing home to complete your recovery. Your family can tour recommended facilities nearby on your behalf and notify the discharge planner about your preferences.

If you’re going to a rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing home, the hospital discharge planner will submit a referral to your preferred choice. It is up to the facility itself to accept you as a patient. Rarely, a rehabilitation facility does not have space due to the nature of the industry. However, most of the time, if your family has toured and the facility can accommodate your care, the facility knows to anticipate your arrival and will hold a bed.

If your discharge plan is home, the hospital discharge planner will still work with you to make the transition as smooth as possible. You may qualify for home health care or skilled nursing care and therapy services at your home for a brief period. Your discharge planner can give you recommendations and again make the referral to the company you’ve chosen.

How to Prepare for Discharge

During your hospital stay, the hospital discharge planner will schedule a meeting to discuss the next steps. Select a time where another family member can be present. If your family isn’t available or allowed to visit the hospital, arrange a conference call discharge planning meeting. Before the meeting, make a list of questions or concerns you have. Be prepared to take notes during the meeting. Ask all your questions and ensure they are answered to your satisfaction. If the discharge planner can’t answer your questions, ask them to find someone who can. Ask for a printed copy of your discharge plans. If the discharge planner is talking too fast or using medical jargon you don’t understand, ask them to slow down and explain. Questions to ask your discharge planner include:

  • How will I get to the rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing home?
  • Who covers the cost of transportation?
  • Can my family transport me instead?
  •  When will home health care begin?
  • What restrictions do I have? Is my diet restricted? What activities should I avoid?
  • What symptoms do I need to look out for and who do I contact if I experience them?
  • Is there anything else I need to know?
  • Are there any follow-up appointments I need to schedule? How do I make those appointments?
  • What medical equipment will I need and how do I get it?
  • What medications do I need and how/when do I take them?

Should you need additional care after a hospital stay, let Senior Living Solutions help you find what you need. We provide free resources and guidance to families in search of senior living options, including in-home care. Our mission is to relieve the stress and burden of finding the best senior living options for you. Should your home need modifications so that you’re safe, we can point you to vetted contractors who can renovate bathrooms, widen doorways, and outfit your home to accommodate your care needs. We are dedicated to helping older adults and their families navigate the various care options available to seniors. If you are interested in exploring available senior living options, please contact us today by calling 501-650-3013.