Older adults' health needs often change during a hospital stay. They may leave the hospital with new prescriptions, treatments, limitations, diets or other care needs.
This plan provides steps you can take in three areas to be ready when the older adult leaves the hospital. Starting early can help.
Step 1: Getting Information
So much information can be shared during hospital stays that it helps to keep track of who tells you what and when.
- During the older adult’s hospital stay, collect information in a notebook or online. Include:
- The names and contact information of health professionals involved in the older adult’s hospital care
- A list of all the older adult’s medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, which some hospitals can print out
- Questions you and the older adult have, with answers and who answered them
- The name and contact information of a nurse or other hospital staff who knows the older adult’s condition, so you can call with questions
- Early in the older adult’s hospital stay, set up a meeting with the hospital discharge planner. During the meeting, ask the hospital discharge planner:
- What care the older adult will need, including wound care, injections or other medical tasks
- How closely the older adult’s condition will need to be watched
- If the older adult should keep taking current medications and if there are new medications
- If medical equipment or devices might help the older adult at home
- If adding grab bars, getting a hospital bed, moving necessary items to one floor or other changes to the older adult’s home might help
- If the older adult might need help with bathing, dressing, preparing meals or other daily tasks
- If a stay at a nursing home or rehab center might help the older adult recover and if so, what insurance might cover
- If there’s insurance coverage for home care and if so, what it covers
- What local services and resources could help the older adult
Step 2: Preparing for Home
After a hospital stay, the older adult might need home modifications or more help with daily tasks.
- Ask hospital staff to train you or others who will help the older adult with medical tasks.
- Ask if the older adult would like help around the home, with care, transportation or other needs. If so, ask who the older adult would like to help. Offer to contact them. If you’re able to help, discuss what you can do.
- Work with others to make any changes to the older adult’s home, such as adding grab bars, getting a hospital bed or moving necessary items to one floor
- Ask hospital staff if the older adult was using medical equipment there. If so, ask if the older adult will leave with the equipment and instructions, or how to get needed equipment.
- Ask hospital staff if the older adult was getting physical therapy there. If so, ask if the hospital will send the latest assessment and therapy plan to the recovery facility or to the older adult’s regular healthcare team.
Step 3: Getting Help at Home
There may be local programs to support at-home recovery and care.
- If you decide to find and hire in-home help, read this comprehensive guide.
- My healthcare provider has answered my most important questions
- I understand what the plan is after leaving this facility
- I have the name and phone number of a person I can contact with questions
- I understand what medications are needed and how they should be taken
- I understand what symptoms to look out for and who to call if I notice them
- I know when and where to go for a follow-up appointment
- I have all the equipment I need at home