The issue of hospital readmission often begins when a senior is still in the hospital, which means that the efforts that you need to take as a family caregiver to reduce the risk that they will suffer a readmission must also begin while your parent is still a patient. There are things that you can do while your parent is still receiving care at the hospital that will set them up for greater success when they return home for care, and will make them more confident about their ability to handle this care without having to return to the hospital.
Some things that you can do while your parent is at the hospital to help reduce the risk of readmission include:
- Be an advocate for your parent and ensure that every member of the medical team who is caring for your parent knows what your parent is going through, what issues they are facing, and the treatments that they are receiving.
- Make sure that the members of the medical team wash their hands each time that they interact with your parent.
- If you are concerned about something that a member of the team does, such as mentioning a medication or treatment that you do not think that your parent needs or that goes against the plan, inserting an unnecessary IV or catheter, or referencing your parent by the wrong name, speak up. Do not just “go with it”. Checking can prevent serious issues.
- Ask questions and make sure that you understand everything that is happening.
- Talk to the doctor before discharge to find out about treatments, prescriptions, follow up care, and more to ensure that you are prepared for caring for your parent after they return home, and to empower them to take care of themselves.
- Start home care for when your parent returns home so that they will have consistent support and care in that setting.
Being a family caregiver for an aging adult can be extremely challenging and stressful. This can be especially true if you are a member of the sandwich generation caring for both your children and your parents, if you live at a distance from your parent and are not able to be with them as frequently as you would like to be, or you have your own challenges and limitations that keep you from giving them the care that they need on a consistent basis. if you are dealing with these challenges, now may be the ideal time for you to start home care for your parents. A care provider can step in to provide care when you are not able to, handle specific care tasks that you are uncomfortable with or not able to handle effectively, give your parent more companionship, or simply to encourage a more active and fulfilling life as they age in place. This is not only extremely beneficial for your parent, but can ease your stress and help you to devote your time, energy, effort, and resources in the best way possible.