Sure, it’s a reason to celebrate when you get the news that you’re being discharged from the hospital. But, there are important steps seniors should take if they want to stay out and get better. A recent Medicare survey shows that 18% of patients over the age of 65 discharged from a hospital are readmitted within the next 30 days.
Preparing for a successful hospital discharge can reduce the possibility of this, and much of it can happen before even leaving the hospital. Here’s what you need to know.
What a Discharge Means
We tend to think of this as an end state, but really, it’s more of a continuation. When you’re discharged from the hospital, it simply means that your doctor has determined that you’ve recovered enough to no longer need hospital-level care. It does not mean that you are fully recovered.
In many cases—especially with older adults—it means you may still need extra or specialized care. You may need this for weeks or even months to come.
Participating in the Hospital Discharge
Your physician and a hospital discharge nurse determine when you can leave the hospital. It’s not an accusation, but rather an observation. These professionals are extremely busy. It’s not that they are unwilling to spend enough time with you to make sure you understand everything you need to know about post-hospital recovery. They often assume that you are aware of what’s necessary.
This is why it’s important for both caretakers and senior patients themselves to be advocates in the process. Make sure you have all the necessary information you need—and that all of your concerns have been answered—before you leave the hospital.
To help you with this Medicare has created an extremely helpful hospital discharge checklist. Download it here. This checklist is an important tool because it provides you with the key questions to ask about follow-up care, medication, equipment and supplies, and even problems to watch for. These are all questions you must have satisfactory answers for before a senior patient leaves the hospital.
And, you really do want to get this information prior to discharge. It can be much more difficult to get helpful answers afterwards.
The discharge checklist helps both caregivers and senior patients understand what’s necessary for a successful recovery. It’s a partnership between caregiver and patient. Think of it as a handoff. The medical professionals at the hospital have started the process that gets you back to wellness. Now, it’s your turn to keep the process going.