Impact of Hospitalization for Elders


I have said, a number of times, that the best blog on the issues of aging is “The New Old Age,” in The New York Times.  Today’s article, “Escape from the Hospital Bed,” is no exception.

The entire article is worth reading, but there is a particular point that I wish every senior and every loved one of an elder who is or will be hospitalized read and took to heart.  Quoting Dr. Steve Fisher, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of Texas Medical Branch:

With older people, … “we know that 30 to 60 percent have a decline in activities of daily living while hospitalized,” Dr. Fisher said. Translation: A person develops problems bathing or dressing himself, or walking across a small room, or performing some other function he could before entering the hospital — even if the problem he came in for is successfully treated.

Further translation: The procedure went fine, but the patient can’t walk.

When folks come out of the hospital or from a rehabilitation stay at a skilled nursing facility, very often their doctor prescribes home health services, comprising nursing, physical therapy and occupational and / or speech therapy.  Unfortunately, many doctors and hospitals do not recognize or “prescribe” home care support for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) to help during the recovery transition period.

If this article is taken as seriously as it should be, more doctors – and patients and their families – would get the help they need when they are discharged from the hospital, and be much less likely to have to go back.

Best wishes, Bert

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