Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Helping Seniors Navigate Hospital Process

Returning home from a hospital stay can result in unexpected challenges for many seniors, and as a result, millions of older Americans are spending billions of dollars on healthcare costs every year that could be avoided through simple planning and preparation - prior to admission. Nearly one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days due to an injury resulting from medical management - not the underlying disease - costing more than $26 billion every year. Some studies have found that between 40-50 percent of readmissions of re-admissions are linked to social problems and lack of community resources.

Any family member who has accompanied an older adult with a serious or chronic illness on the bumpy road from admission to discharge from a hospital, rehab unit, or home care agency services knows how chaotic this experience can be. Nothing can make transitions in patient care settings stree-free, but understanding what is likely to happen can help bypass the most common barriers.

Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging and administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, has released a consumer guide than can be used by families and caregivers to lead the discussion. Eldercare Locator and the United Hosptial Fund's "Next Step In Care" guide, which provides planning tips for pre-hospital check-in, as well as post-chekout from the hosptial, in available on the website, at: http://www.nextstepincare.org/ is designed to help. The guide can be used by families and caregivers to help lead the discussion. Locally, a consultation with a coach trained in assisting families with care transitions is also available through The Dale Association. For more information on the coach program in Niagara County, NY, please call my office at 716-438-2414.

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