As we age, our bodies change, and we may become more susceptible to certain health issues. Seniors are often more likely to require hospitalization than younger people, with some of the most common reasons for hospitalization including falls, respiratory illnesses, and heart issues. However, there are things that seniors and their loved ones can do to reduce the risk of hospitalization and promote better health and safety at home.
Common Causes for Hospital Visits Among Seniors
As mentioned, elderly individuals face a higher risk of hospitalization when it comes to a few specific areas, like:
- Falls. Falls are a common reason for hospitalization among seniors, and they can lead to serious injuries such as fractures, head injuries, and internal bleeding. Seniors may be more prone to falls due to balance issues, vision problems, and medication side effects.
- Respiratory illnesses. Respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are also common reasons for hospitalization among seniors. Seniors may be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses due to a weakened immune system or underlying health conditions.
- Heart issues. Heart attacks and congestive heart failure are other common reasons for hospitalization among seniors. Seniors may be more prone to heart issues due to factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a sedentary lifestyle.
While these are not the only risk factors, they do contribute to the majority of hospital visits among seniors. Planning ahead for ways to prevent these issues will likely limit the amount of time your loved one spends in the hospital.
10 Ways to Reduce Hospital Visits
As you care for an elderly loved one, here are some proactive steps you can take toward keeping them safer and healthier.
1. Keep up with Regular Check-Ups
One of the most important things seniors can do to stay healthy and reduce the risk of hospitalization is to keep up with regular check-ups with their healthcare providers. Regular check-ups can help detect and treat health issues early, before they become more serious.
2. Get a Home Caregiver
Many seniors are hesitant to get an in-home caregiver because they’re afraid to let a stranger into their house. Whether they’re paranoid about dangers or they’re simply introverted and don’t want an unfamiliar person entering their home every day, they put it off. However, having a caregiver is an important step toward maintaining independence and not having to move into a hospital or care facility on a more permanent basis.
If your loved one is hesitant to hire an in-home caregiver, consider whether you could get paid to do the job. As FreedomCare explains, there are certain provisions that allow for people to choose their caregiver and have it funded through Medicaid.
3. Practice Good Hygiene
Seniors may be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and pneumonia. Practicing good hygiene can help reduce the risk of contracting these illnesses. Seniors should be sure to wash their hands regularly, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and avoid close contact with others who may be sick.
4. Stay Active
Staying active can help seniors maintain good physical and mental health, reducing the risk of falls and other health issues. Seniors can engage in physical activity that is appropriate for their age and health, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
5. Make Home Safety Modifications
Seniors and their loved ones can reduce the risk of falls by making modifications to the home, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom and adding non-slip mats to floors. Removing clutter and ensuring that the home is well-lit can also help reduce the risk of falls.
6. Manage Medications
Medication management is essential for seniors to reduce the risk of hospitalization. Seniors should ensure that they are taking their medications as prescribed and be aware of potential side effects or interactions with other medications. It can be helpful to keep a list of medications and dosages on hand and to use a pill dispenser to keep track of medications.
7. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is essential for seniors to maintain good health and reduce the risk of hospitalization. Seniors should aim to eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and as much lean protein as possible. They should also limit their intake of processed and high-fat foods and drink plenty of water.
8. Stay Connected
Loneliness and social isolation can have a negative impact on seniors’ health and increase the risk of hospitalization. Seniors should stay connected with friends and family and consider joining social groups or clubs that interest them. They can also consider volunteering or participating in community activities to stay engaged and connected.
9. Monitor Vital Signs
Seniors or their caregivers can monitor vital signs such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels at home. This can help detect potential health issues early and allow for early intervention. Seniors should be sure to discuss monitoring with their healthcare provider and follow their recommendations.
10. Get Vaccinated
Vaccinations can help protect seniors from illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia. Seniors should discuss vaccinations with their healthcare provider and ensure they are up to date on recommended vaccines.
Keep An Eye Out
You can’t prevent every hospital visit. And in many cases, a hospital visit is the best thing for a senior. However, by following some of the tips outlined in this article, you can reduce your senior’s risk and help them stay safe and comfortable inside of their own home.