By Susan Guy & Martha Owen
As flu season begins, the risk of area seniors being hospitalized increases significantly. However, according to a study conducted by nurses who primary work with seniors, almost half of all seniors hospitalizations (49 percent) can be avoided with proper prevention.
The critical factor in reducing this spike in hospitalizations is family involvement. Nearly all nurses (99 percent) surveyed say that the role families play in keeping seniors out of the hospital is just as important as the role of the medical community.
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 Susan Guy, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care franchise serving Fayetteville. “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 risks of hospitalization is waiting too long to seek medical attention, according to the nurses surveyed. They estimate that nearly half of all seniors (47 percent) put off medical appointments or have problems accessing medical care.
“Not following doctor’s orders also puts seniors at risk,” Susan Guy 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, that was developed with Dr. Carolyn Clevenger, incoming president of Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. The free guide included information about common risk factors and the steps that families can take to help ensure a healthy lifestyle.
The recommendations include:
· Make sure the senior is take preventive 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
Additional free resources can be found at www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com.
To obtain a copy of the Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide please call 910.484.7200.
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.