As Ireland plunges into the heart of the winter season, the risk of older people being hospitalised spikes to the highest level of the year, despite the fact that almost half of these hospitalisations (49%) can be avoided with proper intervention.
According to a new study of nurses in Ireland, winter is the height of hospitalisation season for seniors due primarily to respiratory infections, such as flu or pneumonia, and other winter hazards.
The critical factor in reducing this spike is family involvement. Nearly all nurses (96.57%) surveyed say that the role families play in keeping seniors out of the hospital is just as important as the role of the medical community.
Knowing that a hospital stay can actually lead to more serious health declines, home care provider, Home Instead Senior Care, is mounting an informational campaign to educate families and decrease hospitalsations so that seniors may remain at home and healthy year-round.
“Keeping seniors safe at home and out of the hospital starts with family intervention, support and assistance,” said Danette Connolly, Director of Care, Home Instead Senior Care Waterford.
“Quick and simple home checks will reveal if parents or grandparents are using assistive equipment to avoid falls, that pathways are kept clear, that they are eating hot meals regularly, and that they are keeping warm throughout the day.”
Danette also suggests encouraging them to see a doctor if they have any new aches or symptoms.
The most common action by seniors that puts them at risk of hospitalisation is waiting too long to seek medical attention, according to the nurses surveyed.
“Not following doctor’s orders also puts seniors at risk,” Danette said. “Families play a critical role in making sure they fully understand and comply with medical instructions.”
To help families identify and act on potential warning signs, Home Instead Senior Care is offering The Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalisations guide. The free guide includes information about common risk factors and the steps that families can take to help ensure a healthy lifestyle.
The recommendations include:
• Make sure the older person is taking preventative health measures – like getting a flu shot or shingles vaccination
• Encourage the use of assistive equipment
• Monitor and/or assist with medications
• Attend doctor’s visits and be a medical advocate for your older loved one
• Assess ageing loved one’s balance
• Make sure he or she is able to safely drive
• Check in on ageing loved ones regularly
Additional free resources can be found at www.homeinstead.ie.
To obtain a copy of the Five Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalisations guide, please call Home Instead Senior Care Waterford and Dungarvan on 051 333966 or 058 058 75298.