Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hospital is no place to be when sick and senior

Growing up I always believed that a trip to the hospital meant that I would not only be cured of what ailed me but that my personal comfort, as well as my health, would be catered to. From my own experience with aging family members and that of the seniors that I work with, I know that this is not necessarily the case. Increases in the number of people using the system combined with the frailty of the people entering our hospitals, has led to minimum care being provided to each patient. If you are elderly or have an aging relative here are three things you need to know.
1) Personal care for an aging relative falls to the family. For example, most hospital staff will not shave patients meaning the family or privately sourced care givers are required to do this.

2) It falls to the family to monitor many of the basic functions such as eating and mood changes in their aging relatives.

3) Hospitals are not staffed adequately to assist patients to and from the bathroom meaning many seniors, unsteady on their feet or weak from illness, are placed in incontinent products to minimize risks of falling.

Should your loved one be deemed as unable to care for themselves and live independently, after they leave the hospital, long term care may be recommended by hospital staff. As a family member, caring for an aging parent or relative, here are three things you need to know.

a) Your loved one must be considered “bed ready” meaning ready for discharge from the hospital, prior to any applications being submitted for long term care.

b) Many hospital policies have been changes and now require that a family select a bed in a long term care facility, which has availability, as one of their facility choices even if they do not really want to go there.

c) Many hospitals are opting to charge patients who stay in their beds longer then the hospital deems warranted. This cost can range from $50 per day up to $700 per day.

So what can you do?

1) Ensure that aging relatives have a family member or advocate with them when they go to the hospital and ensure that this person is authorized to speak with medical staff re: care options.

2) Bring Powers of Attorney for Care to the hospital and add names to the hospital contact list that you want authorized to inquire about your care and make care choices should you be incapacitated.

2) Don't accept a bed at a long term care facility where you do not want to live. It is difficult to get moved once you are placed.

3) Look for a respite bed at a facility where you may want to stay versus a permanent placement.

4) Select a
n interim placement at a retirement home which provides a high level of assisted living.