Respite Care for Recovery

in Health & Wellness, Tips & Advice

Before your parent is discharged from the hospital, it’s important to know your options for recovery care.

Discharging older adults from the hospital before they’re ready happens a lot. They are not prepared on a physical level or from an emotional standpoint. And let’s face it, as a caregiver, unless you happen to be a nurse or medical professional, you may not be prepared to provide the level or intensity of care your parent needs.

The good news is that you have options. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to make sure your parent’s return home is successful.

A Serious Issue That Now Has a Name

Did you know that 20% of seniors return to the hospital within 30 days because they didn’t get the post-hospital care they needed?

The issue of senior rehospitalization is nothing new. There’s actually a name for it: post-hospital syndrome. In fact, the federal government had to step in because it was such a big problem.

In 2012, the Medicare Hospital Readiness Reduction Program went into effect. It offers incentives or penalizes hospitals with higher than average readmission rates. Investigators found two main reasons for hospital returns among the elderly. First was a lack of communication during the transition phase. And the biggest factor was patients not following through with recovery guidelines.

A New Solution: Respite Care Stays

Research shows that seniors who enjoy an environment focused on quality rehabilitation recover faster. They also remain healthy longer after a hospital stay. It’s for this reason that many Senior Living communities now offer extended respite care stays.

“Seniors are much more active when they have supportive services right where they are,” says William Swearingen, Vice President of Sales for Spectrum Retirement Communities. “They are physically engaged in a way that they typically are not at home.”

As a caregiver, especially if you still have the responsibilities of a career or caring for your family, it’s a challenge to make sure Mom or Dad follows through with the things they need to do for a healthy recovery.

That’s why more and more adult children take advantage of the services offered by respite care teams in Senior Living communities.

The Benefits of Transitional Care

Did you even know that a respite care stay was an option? Many caregivers don’t. Then they find themselves performing their regular caregiving duties while adding the new role of rehab specialist. It can be overwhelming, possibly leading to caregiver burnout.

A brief stay — the max is 30 days — in an Assisted or Independent Living community before heading home makes a significant difference in recovery. A research trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied the effects of transitional care. They looked at seniors hospitalized due to heart failure. In the 12-month period following hospitalization, the readmission rate significantly lowered for the patients who received transitional care. The resulting healthcare savings was $5,000 per patient.

More important than financial savings are the life-enriching benefits your loved one gains during their stay. Swearingen offers three advantages that he’s experienced firsthand.

1. Physical and Mental Engagement

During their stay, your parent has access to physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. These professionals are natural elements of the surroundings. This helps seniors develop the skills they need to take part in their own recovery.

2. The Socialization Element

An engaging activity program is included in recovery. The combination of social interactions alongside physical activity actually speeds up recovery. One resident explained it to Swearingen. She said, “I’m out and about, and I’m doing things. Not just sitting home, waiting. I exercise more now and don’t even know that I’m doing it.”

3. A More Comfortable Transition Back Home

During their respite care stay, your parent learns self-management. These are the important skills they’ll need to continue their successful recovery. This includes taking medications as prescribed, recognizing red flags for potential complications, learning how to safely stay mobile and practicing self-care.

Swearingen summarizes things brilliantly: “Definitive studies show the happier we are during certain processes of life, the better we handle those circumstances. That’s definitely true for recovery in any medical situation. If more is being given to us in that process, versus just the rehabilitative element, we heal faster and come out better on the back side of that.”

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