Most of us think of a hospital as a place to heal and to recover and, the majority of the time, it is. But hospitals can also present risks, especially for our most vulnerable seniors. Be forewarned, these are shockingly high statistics.
- According to Health Affairs one in three people admitted to a hospital will experience a medication error, fall, bed sore or a problem with care delivery of some kind.
- According to the Department of Health and Human Services over 1 million HAIs (healthcare-associated infections) occur across the U.S. healthcare system every year.
- These infections can lead to significant morbidity and mortality, with tens of thousands of lives lost each year.
What precautions can you take if your elderly loved one has a planned surgery or upcoming hospitalization?
The aging experts at The Bristal offer these 5 tips for keeping your senior citizen safe at the hospital:
- Have someone stay with them as much as possible. It should be a friend or family member who can monitor what goes on when your loved one isn’t feeling well enough to fend for themselves. If they have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, you may also want to consider hiring a hospital sitter through a home care agency to sit with them overnight.
- To help prevent the spread of germs, make sure everyone who enters their room washes their hands as soon as they arrive. Make that a rule for everyone from housekeeping and visitors to physicians.
- Medication errors are one of the top concerns for anyone who is hospitalized. In a friendly and respectful way, ask the nurse who administers their medications to double check each one before she gives it to your loved one. The nurse should also be checking their hospital wristband for identification every time a medication is given.
- Falls among seniors are always a concern. In an unfamiliar environment, especially at night, the risk is even higher. If your loved one is allowed to get up on their own, make certain the path to the restroom stays clear. If the hospital doesn’t provide non-skid socks, make sure to bring some from home or buy them in the hospital gift shop. If your loved one will be left alone and they aren’t supposed to get up on their own, be sure the call button is within easy reach.
- Keep alcohol or bleach wipes in their room. Wipe down everything that is routinely touched – the phone, the television remote, doorknobs and more – several times a day. Their room will no doubt receive a daily cleaning from housekeeping, but a lot of people will travel in and out of their room. With each new visitor comes the potential for new germs.
We hope these tips will help keep the older adult in your family safe during their hospital stay.