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Hospital Advocates for Older Adults

Your senior loved one has been admitted to the hospital for treatment. You can relax now, knowing that he or she is secure and well cared for in a hospital environment...right? While its true that medical professionals will strive to provide the highest level of patient care possible; many factors put seniors at increased risk for problems during hospitalization. With nursing shortages and financial stresses increasing for most hospitals, adequate care for the complex needs of older patients can pose significant challenges. The resulting gaps in care can be serious with medical errors, falls, medication mistakes and infections on the rise.

Common Risks for Hospitalized Seniors:

1. Falls: Seniors may become disoriented due to illness or sedatives and as a consequence are at increased risk for falling. Serious or life threatening injuries can occur as a result.

2. Delirium: Sleep disturbance, change in normal routine and introduction of new medications can put seniors at risk for developing a serious complication like delirium. As many as 1/3 of patients over 65 and 70% of seniors admitted to intensive care units experience delirium. Symptoms of delirium include confusion, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and agitation. These behavioral changes are often first noticed by family members or friends.

3. Pressure Sores: Break down in an elderly patient's delicate skin may occur during a hospital stay, resulting in painful bed sores. Open wounds put a senior at risk for infection. Seniors who are not capable of repositioning themselves are at increased risk for this serious complication.

4. Medication Errors and Side Effects: Seniors are frequently taking multiple medications at the time they are admitted. Incomplete medical information and histories may result in adverse reactions when new or contraindicated medications are prescribed by the hospital's attending physician. Potentially serious side effects may go unnoticed by hospital staff who are unfamiliar with a patient's normal condition.

5. Malnutrition: Studies show that approximately 58% of patients over 65 experience problems eating and/or poor appetite while hospitalized. This can put older adults at risk for malnutrition and slower recovery rates.

6. Infection: Serious and sometimes drug resistant infections are rampant in clinical settings. Elderly adults, weakened by illness are more susceptible to hospital acquired infections.

These serious and potentially life threatening complications underscore the need for all elderly patients to have an advocate for them while hospitalized. In many cases, the advocate will be a family member or trusted friend. However, in some cases, family members live out of town or can not be available due to work schedules or personal obligations. In such instances, a paid advocate makes sense to cover the senior's needs during hospitalization.

How will an Advocate help?

1. Monitor patient safety. An advocate can remain at the bedside to make certain that patients who are at risk of falling, remain safe. This will prevent the use of safety restraints. Additionally, the advocate can monitor the patient for changes in mood or behavior which could signal medication interactions or infection.

2.Meet physicians. An advocate can meet with hospital personnel to convey important medical history and current medication dosing. An elderly client might be too ill or confused to ask appropriate questions regarding his care or treatment plan. An advocate works to make sure that needs are addressed in a timely manner.

3. Bedsore prevention. Some elderly patients will not be physically able to reposition themselves to prevent the development of risky bedsores. An advocate can make certain that he is repositioned every 2 hours to reduce this risk.

4. Prevent Infection. Senior patients will need an advocate to remind all personnel and visitors who enter the room, to wash their hands to prevent the spread of infection. Many seniors are just not up to this task. An advocate can assist with trying to get a private room for a client or loved one. Having a private room can greatly reduce the risk of disease cross contamination.

5. Monitor Nutrition. Seniors often do not eat well while hospitalized. Often, hospital aides remove meal trays too quickly, before a senior patient has finished or even developed an appetite. The advocate can encourage or feed, if necessary, to promote adequate intake. Advocates can also make certain that patients are served food that takes into account any dietary restrictions. Outside food items can also be brought in as a treat with nurse's approval.

6. Comfort Care. Elderly patients may feel anxious or frightened when hospitalized. They may feel a profound loss of control. Having an advocate, whether family member or paid professional caregiver, can offer reassurance and security during a difficult time.

*Busy work and family schedules may prevent you from being with your parent as much as you would like. That's where a "Hospital Advocate" from Easy Living Services can be an invaluable resource .Rely on a trained caregiver to provide companionship, supplemental personal care, and to serve as your loved one's advocate when you must be away. A professional "Hospital Advocate" can fill in family care gaps and provide peace of mind.

If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.

Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!

Easy Living Services, Inc.

Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994

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