Strong and independent: we strive as individuals to be both. However, for many of us, there eventually comes a time when we are no longer able to care for ourselves. For senior patients, recognizing this change can be challenging. The desire to continue living independently can blind older adults to the potential health and safety risks associated with living alone.
Nearly 17% of U.S. seniors over the age of 65 are hospitalized each year according to CDC data, and more than one in 20 older adults are hospitalized two times or more annually. For those who are independent enough to be discharged back to their home environment, home health care is an integral part of reducing the chance of readmission. Oasis Senior Advisors is proud to partner with many home health agencies and other providers for seniors in transition between care settings.
The Role of Home Health Care in the Discharge Process:
Over the last quarter century, the average U.S. hospital stay has decreased by more than 1.5 days, which means that patients are now more responsible for their continued recovery at home. While discharge planners release their patients armed with knowledge and materials to care for themselves, nearly one in five seniors who are discharged from a hospital are readmitted within a month, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
While some readmissions are unavoidable, many are preventable. Some of the most common root causes of readmission are a failure to follow the prescribed medication regimen, resistance to seeing a physician within 7-10 days of discharge, as well as fall-related injuries. A home health care professional can assist with each of these challenges. Among their many responsibilities, home health care providers coordinate care between patients and their physicians, manage medications, monitor diet, activity and vital signs, and ensure a safer environment. Home health can also include occupational and physical therapy for strengthening and recovery.
“Frequent Flyers” and Home Health Care: A Case Study
Mr. and Mrs. D were known as “frequent flyers” at their local emergency department because of their repeated hospital readmissions. The couple, both in their 90s, had lived on their own for 70 years, but had each been in the hospital two to three times each in just the past year, followed each time by month-long stints in rehab.
It was clear that the pair would need a transition in care, and during Mrs. D’s most recent trip to a physical rehab center, the facility contacted Oasis Senior Advisors to manage the transition process. When the Oasis Advisor began working with Mrs. D, she discovered that the elderly husband was at home alone, desperately in need of assistance. Using her vast knowledge of local senior resources, the Oasis Advisor found a home health care agency that could begin providing services the very next day. When the home health caregiver arrived, she found him on the floor, injured, dehydrated, and near death. He was immediately taken to the hospital and the couple were able to celebrate their 71st anniversary together at the same rehab facility.
Mr. and Mrs. D already had challenges when trying to care for one another– but those challenges became insurmountable when one of them was no longer in the home. Home health care providers can reduce those challenges, circumvent readmissions, and reduce the “frequent flyer” phenomenon among elderly patients.
Home Health Care and Seniors
Thousands, perhaps millions, of seniors across the country are in the same situation Mr. and Mrs. D were facing. They value their independence and believe they can still care for themselves. While many older adults can live on their own well into their 90s or even longer, the ability to remain independent varies greatly among seniors.
Home health care can be an important stopgap, not only for those who need care transitions after an injury or illness, but also for those who are not yet ready to move into an assisted living community or other senior care environment. According to the CDC, 4.5 million Americans received home health care in 2015 (the last year for which this data is available). While not all of these people are elders, the statistics of seniors requiring in-home care is only projected to rise.
Whether a senior needs a temporary care transition or assistance finding an appropriate senior living community, Oasis Senior Advisors work tirelessly to find the best fit for each senior in need of care. Oasis’ network of trusted partners include home health and non-clinical home care providers, occupational and physical therapists, and others who can provide assistance in a time of need.
With the help of Oasis, Mr. and Mrs. D were able to get the assistance that they required. Every year, Oasis Senior Advisors connect thousands of older adults across the nation with the care and senior living solutions that they need. If you have a senior patient who is in need of assistance from Oasis, please contact your local advisor today by completing our referral for or by calling (888) 455-5838. Assistance from Oasis Senior Advisors is always free to seniors and their families.