10 Preventive Strategies to Keep Your Elderly Loved Ones Out of the Hospital

Many of us are responsible for providing care for older family members and friends. While we do what we can to make sure our loved ones stay healthy and protected, there are situations that arise which can require a hospital stay.

At the Becker Law Office, our Kentucky elder care attorneys understand how even a single hospital visit can affect an elderly family member’s overall state of health. We want to share the following important information about preventive strategies to keep your loved one healthy and avoid the need for a hospital stay.

The Dangers of Elderly Hospitalization

According to Parent Giving, an online resource, many caregivers consider a trip to the hospital as a simple and relatively safe part of providing loved ones the care that they need. Unfortunately, the potential risks an elderly loved one faces during a hospital stay are at an all-time high. Even a short visit or outpatient procedure can leave your elderly family member with a hospital-based infection or other unanticipated complications. The following are among the top risk factors for elderly patients during hospital stays:

  • Medical mistakes and errors;
  • Hospital based infections;
  • Slip and fall injuries;
  • Bedsores due to improper positioning;
  • Medication errors and overdoses;
  • Malnutrition.

Parent Giving reports that roughly one third of all hospitalized seniors show signs of dementia after a hospital stay, while dementia impacts as many as 70 percent of patients in the intensive care unit. The reasons why a hospital stay can contribute to dementia include disruption in normal routines, new medicines, and changes in sleep patterns or the quality of sleep.

Providing for Elderly Care Without Going To The Hospital

While a caregiver should act as a patient advocate when an elderly loved one enters the hospital, there are certain steps that you can take to help prevent a hospital stay in the first place.

According to a US News and WorldReport article, preventing common household accidents and protecting elderly parents and loved ones from the risk of illness can go a long way toward reducing the need for a hospital visit.

The following are ten steps you can take to help keep your loved one out of the hospital:

  1. Be proactive in installing safety features around the home, such as guardrails on stairs and safety grips and non-slip mats in bathrooms and showers to prevent fall injuries.
  2. Remove potential hazards in the home that could increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries, such as throw rugs and worn or uneven flooring.
  3. Employ strategies to make sure your elderly loved one takes their daily medications as prescribed. Put medications in a seven-day pill dispenser to help them keep track of which pills they have taken. If they take some medications in the morning and others at night, sort the pills into two pill dispensers to make them easier to remember. Work with your pharmacy to ensure your loved one is not overprescribed.
  4. Share mealtimes together when possible to ensure your loved one is eating properly.
  5. Make sure your loved one attends all regularly scheduled doctor’s visits to help manage chronic conditions, such as heart problems or diabetes.
  6. Consider hiring a home health care caregiver to assist when you are not there.
  7. Explore technological aids that can help monitor your loved one’s health status and alert you to issues, while enabling them to immediately contact you in the event of an emergency.
  8. Confront issues that may increase the likelihood of accidents behind the wheel, such as declining vision, difficulty hearing or stiff joints that slow reaction time. Enlist a doctor’s help if necessary, and get other family members and friends to volunteer to take your loved one out on trips and errands.
  9. Get your loved ones involved in household routines and chores if possible, so they feel a part of the family.
  10. Draw up the proper documents to address end of life issues, such as naming a healthcare proxy and understand their wishes in regard to feeding tubes and do not resuscitate orders.

Activities for Seniors in Our Area

It also is important to address the social and recreational needs of elderly loved ones to keep them active and healthy and prevent isolation and depression. According to A Place For Mom, a resource connecting families to elderly care, keeping seniors busy and active helps them stay fit, both emotionally and physically, while warding off the risk of developing dementia. Depending on where you live, there are numerous activities for seniors that are available, including the following:

In Louisville, KY

Senior centers in Louisville are numerous, and provide a wealth of activities for seniors in the area, including social and group sporting activities, art classes, support groups, regularly scheduled dances and card nights.

In Lexington, KY

The Lexington Senior Center provides Fayette County residents the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, including book clubs, support groups, team sporting events, and exercise classes, as well as travel with other seniors to visit destinations throughout the state.

In Florence, KY

The County of Florence operates a senior center that offers activities, including computer classes, arts and crafts, sporting activities, bingo and movie nights, and line dancing on a weekly or monthly basis.

In Cincinnati, Ohio

For those Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission offers seniors the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities to suit every lifestyle, including arts and crafts, exercise classes, sporting events, and dances.

How Our Kentucky Elder Care Attorneys Can Assist You

At Becker Law Office, our Kentucky elder care attorneys are here to assist your family with any issues that may arise in the care and protection of your loved ones. We offer numerous resources for caregivers and family members, in addition to legal representation in cases of abuse or neglect. We work with families throughout the Louisville, Lexington, and Florence, Kentucky areas, as well as offering legal services to residents of Cincinnati. You can count on us to provide the caring, compassionate legal service you deserve. Call or contact our office online today to find out how we can assist you.