Transitioning from Hospital to Home After an Accident

elderly fall prevention

While the winter holidays provide a chance to gather with loved ones, travel and weather can also generate more opportunities for accidents for seniors. Wet winter weather makes surfaces like sidewalks slick and icy, demanding extra caution for seniors as they get from one place to another. When falls occur, some lead to hospital stays or rehabilitation centers to treat injuries.

The transition home is not always straightforward. There are many factors seniors, their caretakers, and their families need to consider to make the process as smooth as possible. There are several ways loved ones can mitigate the transition’s difficulty, which can reduce stress and promote a healthy recovery[1]. Some might find more peace of mind using a personal alarm button for their loved one to ensure that the person has immediate access to help, especially if they live alone. Continue reading to understand how to create an easier journey home after an injury, and how an Alert1 medical alert system is a useful resource for those in transition. 

More People Return Home from Hospital Stays this Time of Year

One in every four seniors will fall at least one time per year[2]. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury for elderly adults older than 65 in the United States. Because of this, some seniors are likely to visit the hospital at some point during the year to treat injuries from a fall. The winter season poses extra fall risks for seniors due to poor outdoor conditions and more time spent inside. So, as older adults recover from injuries, they finish their recovery at home. 

Recovering during the winter has its benefits and disadvantages for older adults. The winter weather might preclude you from some outdoor rehabilitation options since the chance of falling again exists more prominently in the winter. On the flip side though, you and your care team can have a more focused home recovery program since there is not as much need to be outside. The at-home rehab process for a fall involves building confidence in your footing along with physically healing from any injuries. Caretakers and family members can help their loved one navigate their home surroundings and eliminate obstacles or hazards in the house during recovery. This way, when nicer weather arrives, you can enjoy normal activities more and begin to incorporate more social events. 

The continuing pandemic has made hospitals a high-risk area in which to be[3]. Seniors and their care team might find home to be safer than a longer stay in the hospital or rehabilitation center. The transition from hospital to home can help seniors feel like they have the care they need while finding comfort from being at home. Adults seeking the peace of mind of knowing they have access to 24/7/365 assistance as they recover would benefit from a medical alert system, which connects them to help the moment they need it.     

Easing the Transition Home After a Hospital Stay 

Managing the care transition of yourself or your loved one from the hospital to the home takes the coordination of several factors, including logistical considerations and personal preferences. Organizing the details of your recovery at home requires patience as your care team makes arrangements and you settle into a new routine. If you have ever experienced a transition like this before, or if you know someone who has, you understand that the change may bring stress, frustration, and complications. There are ways to ease the difficulties of establishing your outpatient care at home to reach your recovery goals. Keep in mind that each situation will require its own steps, but the following suggestions can help you or a loved one prepare for the care transition. 

·        Understand if You’ll Need Outpatient Services After an Inpatient Stay - Once you know where recovery will take place, you can begin to research places for your loved one to stay if they need extended care in an outpatient assisted living facility. You can find caregivers and facilities near you that Medicare covers to make sure your insurance will help pay.  It is important to voice preferences and to be as thorough with your research as possible to find the right solution. You can start thinking about outpatient plans even while your loved one is in the hospital. 

·        Secure Mobility Aids if the Accident Caused an Impairment - If an injury has resulted in mobility issues for an elderly adult, their caregiving team needs to prepare transportation and have the right mobility aids available. This means renting a wheelchair or modifying the home to remove potential fall risks.

·        Be Involved in Your Care Plan - Communication is central to a smooth care transition. At important moments, be sure to advocate for yourself or your loved one to voice your preferences[4]. Do not be afraid to speak up and share your input along the way. Advocating comes in many forms. Examples of advocating are monitoring your loved one’s care, taking notes when a doctor is consulting with your loved one, and requesting information on your loved one’s treatment and your responsibilities in their care. Include yourself in discussions of care to have the most accurate information. 

·        Find Ways to Feel Safe at Home- While some recovering seniors may find great comfort in being home after a stay in the hospital, the home can still feel unsafe at times—especially if one lives alone. Seniors and their care team might need to take extra precautions to make the home safe for those recovering. One way to ensure constant connection to immediate medical attention is the use of an Alert1 medical alert system. The systems can come with fall detection technology, which triggers an emergency call if built-in sensors detect a fall. This feature can bring great peace of mind to the recovering individual and their family that help is accessible 24/7/365.

Create a Care Transition Checklist

A care transition checklist will keep you organized and on track for a smooth transition process. The following checklist items will get you started. Your situation may require additional items and additional detail to make the list functional for your care transition.

  • Contact the discharge planner: Getting in touch with the case worker for the patient is a good place to start to get the relevant information and care needs.
  • Discuss plans with the patient: Be sure to involve the patient in all discussions of care decisions. 
  • Talk with doctors and therapists: You may need to consult specialty doctors or therapists depending on your rehab needs. 
  • Arrange care location, home, or facility: This step requires close attention to details and research into adequate care facilities for the person recovering. If the best care location is the home, the caregiver may need to make some home modifications before the person comes home. 
  • Keep a detailed list of medications, prescriptions, and discharge instructions: The person's recovery might include a schedule for certain prescriptions and treatments, so you need to have a detailed list of all discharge instructions.
  • Ensure the transfer of medical files to healthcare providers: Up-to-date medical files ensure the right treatment plan for your loved one after they leave the hospital and return to their primary care physician.

A Medical Alert System Brings Safety and Reassurance to Your Home Recovery

A care transition plan brings organization to the sometimes stressful process of bringing someone home to finish their recovery after a fall or injury. As many seniors transition out of the hospital or rehab facility and come home, their care team needs to make the right preparations to have a smooth transfer. In addition, the care team can equip the home with the right treatment supplies and safety devices to make the home feel safe. One such safety device is a medical alert system. 

Alert1 offers a variety of medical alert systems to meet your recovery needs. All Alert1 emergency response agents have certifications and training. Once you push the emergency button or the fall detection triggers an alert, you will connect with an agent immediately. While some other medical alert companies charge members for accidental or false alarm pushes, Alert1 does not.

Unlike some other medical alert companies, Alert1 does not lock members into lengthy and expensive contracts for a device. Instead, Alert1 offers flexible pricing models to suit every budget. The in-home and on-the-go device bundle is ideal for seniors who maintain an active lifestyle during recovery and move around in the house or travel outside the house to treatment centers. Recovering from an injury takes a careful treatment plan and a dedicated care team. If family, friends, or neighbors cannot always be present during your recovery period, you can feel safer and more protected with a button alarm for seniors that gives you instant access to help 24/7/365.

 






[1] Goyer, Amy. 2021, Oct. 27. Managing the Transition from Hospital to Rehab to Home. AARP.org. Managing the Transition from Hospital to Rehab to Home

[2] Yoshida, Sachiyo. 2020. A Global Report on Falls Prevention: Epidemiology of Falls. World Health Organization. A Global Report on Falls Prevention: Epidemiology of Falls.

[3] Jacobson, Gretchen, Gustafsson, Lovisa, Cicchiello, Aimee. 2020, Aug. 26. Census Survey: Elderly More Likely Than Younger Adults to Say They Got Needed Medical Care During COVID-19 Pandemic. The Commonwealth Fund. Census Survey: Elderly More Likely Than Younger Adults to Say They Got Needed Medical Care During COVID-19 Pandemic.

[4] La, Ton. 2021, Mar. 31. 5 Tips to Advocate for Loved Ones Hospitalized During the Pandemic. U.S. News. 5 Tips to Advocate for Loved Ones Hospitalized During the Pandemic.