November 18, 2017

Families can help keep seniors out of the hospital

As flu season begins, the risk of area seniors being hospitalized increases significantly. But many hospitalizations can be avoided with preventative measures.

A critical factor in reducing this spike in hospitalizations is family involvement. Knowing that a hospital stay can actually lead to more serious health declines, local senior care experts are mounting an informational campaign to educate families and decrease hospitalizations so that seniors may remain at home and healthy year-round.

“Keeping seniors safe at home and out of the hospital starts with family intervention,” said Patrice Thabault owner of the Home Instead Senior Care franchise serving Chittenden and surrounding counties. “It could be as simple as making sure your parents are using assistive equipment to avoid falls or suggesting they see a doctor for any new aches or symptoms.”

The most common action by seniors that puts them at risk of hospitalization is waiting too long to seek medical attention, according to the nurses surveyed in a recent study. They estimate that nearly half of all seniors put off medical appointments or have problems accessing medical care.

“Not following doctor’s orders also puts seniors at risk,” Thabault said. “Families play a critical role in making sure they fully understand and comply with medical instructions.”

To help families identify and act on potential warning signs, Home Instead Senior Care is offering The Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide, developed with Dr. Carolyn Clevenger, incoming president of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. The free guide includes information about common risk factors and the steps that families can take to help ensure a healthy lifestyle.

The recommendations include:

Make sure seniors are taking preventative health measures, like getting a flu shot or shingles vaccination

Encourage the use of assistive equipment

Monitor and/or assist with medications

Attend doctor’s visits and be a medical advocate for your senior

Assess your senior’s balance

Make sure your senior is able to safely drive

Check in on aging loved ones regularly

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