After staying in a hospital, many seniors face challenges at home that could necessitate another trip there. However, researchers said family caregivers can focus on so-called "social environmental factors" to help reduce the chances of readmitting their loved ones to the hospital.
The study, which came out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, looked at more than 1,260 elderly adults receiving home health care or care from a family member. Researchers assessed the patients' social environment, including whether they lived alone, who was providing care for them, and the frequency they received it. The team found that seniors with the greatest differences between their functional ability and their clinical condition were often back in the hospital soon after returning home.
"Understanding how social environmental factors contribute to home healthcare patients being rehospitalized would assist in improving care for patients and in helping agencies deliver more cost-effective care while at the same time managing Medicare spending," researchers wrote.
It's no surprise that a senior's social environment plays a big role in their health and whether they return to the hospital. According to a separate study from the University of California - San Francisco, feelings of loneliness in seniors are often tied to poorer health.