OMAHA, Neb., Jan. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Approximately half (49 percent) of hospitalizations among seniors could be prevented, according to a new study of nurses who work primarily with seniors.* This data comes at a critical time, as winter is the highest risk season for senior hospitalizations due to respiratory infections, such as flu or pneumonia, and other winter hazards, such as falls due to icy conditions.
The overarching solution to eliminating potentially half of senior hospitalizations? Family. Nearly all nurses surveyed (99 percent) say that the role families play in keeping seniors out of the hospital is just as important as the role of the medical community. Despite the importance of this component of comprehensive care, less than half of seniors (48.6 percent) have a medical advocate, a role that is primarily filled by their family members.
"It is critical that families take action to get involved with their senior loved ones' care," says Jeff Huber, president of Home Instead, Inc. "By getting familiar with their care routine, they can take immediate action where needed and be better prepared to step in during emergency situations."
There are several important steps families can take to help keep their senior loved ones out of the hospital, from monitoring their taking of prescribed medications for chronic conditions to attending doctors' visits and checking in to ensure doctors' instructions are followed. In fact, two in five nurses say one of the easiest ways to help prevent hospitalization is to follow doctor's orders. Families play a critical role in encouraging seniors to visit the doctor. The most common action by seniors that puts them at risk of hospitalization is waiting too long to seek medical attention, and nearly half of all seniors (47 percent) put off their medical appointments or have problems accessing medical care.
When these simple preventative measures are neglected, hospitalizations occur, putting seniors at risk for more serious health issues as they could be exposed to hospital-acquired infections, reduced immobility and a break in their routine. Hospitalizations often cause confusion among seniors, and some may not ever regain full function after a hospital stay.
"Preventing hospitalizations among seniors is critical, as a hospital stay often leads to more serious health decline," stresses Huber. "Because we continually see this decline among hospitalized seniors, Home Instead Senior Care® network is introducing all-new resources for families and seniors this winter in an effort to help decrease hospitalizations so that seniors may remain at home and healthy year-round."
The Five Ways to Prevent Senior HospitalizationsSM guide -- developed by Home Instead, Inc. with Dr. Carolyn Clevenger, incoming president of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association -- is available to help families identify and act on potential warning signs. This free guide includes information about common risk factors and the steps that families can take to help ensure a healthy lifestyle.
Also as part of the program, a web-based "Hospitalization Risk Meter" will help family caregivers tune into the habits of their senior loved ones in an effort to help them avoid the risks of hospitalization. Additional free resources available at www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com, include:
- Information on potential hazards to address in senior homes,
- Preventative health measures seniors can begin immediately,
- Tips for medication management, and
- Balance assessment techniques and fall prevention tips.
To obtain a copy of the Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide or to explore these resources in depth, visit www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com.
* Home Instead, Inc. completed telephone interviews with a random sample of 400 nurses who work with seniors in North America. The nurses surveyed work in the following community-based settings: hospitals, doctor offices and clinics, adult day care, and home health companies.
ABOUT HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network provides personalized care, support and education to help enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, this network is the world's leading provider of in-home care services for seniors, with more than 1,000 independently owned and operated franchises that are estimated to annually provide more than 50 million hours of care throughout the United States and 15 other countries. Local Home Instead Senior Care offices employ approximately 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services that enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. The Home Instead Senior Care network strives to partner with each client and his or her family members to help meet that individual's needs. Services span the care continuum -- from providing companionship and personal care to specialized Alzheimer's care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. At Home Instead Senior Care, it's relationship before task, while striving to provide superior quality service. For more information, visit homeinstead.com.
SOURCE Home Instead Senior Care