Helping Elderly Patients Stay Safe at Home – Care Example

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"Helping Elderly Patients Stay Safe at Home" is a perfect example of a paper on care. Seniors are always at a risk of falling down. The risks associated with old age increase as they grow older because they are fragile, have low immunity and do not heal as fast as young people do in case of injuries. Hospitalization complicates their delicate situation further especially if they are living alone. Seniors are admitted for varied medical conditions and given that they are old, they are more prone to falls. More seniors in America are opting to live alone in their homes as compared to living in a home for the elderly.

However, studies have shown that living alone is not healthy for them. It exposes them to social isolation and symptoms of dementia. Therefore, there is a necessity to develop safe ways to assist their stay at home. Apart from their fragile nature, loneliness and lack of contact with family and friends can shorten the lives of seniors. Many seniors have experienced a fall or have been hospitalized because of a fall.

In some instances, they heal well but others keep falling because they refuse to use a walking aid or because of their situation, they simply forget. Hospitals have come up with guidelines for discharging seniors, but again some of these seniors refuse to stay in the hospital longer than necessary. Reports show that approximately 29 percent of the elderly in America lived alone in 2010. Seniors even opt to live alone as they grow older. Nevertheless, the reality on the ground shows that Americans aged 65 years and above need to be assisted to perform daily life activities (Perissinotto, Cenzer, and Covinsky, 2012). Before looking at a plan on how to assist the elderly who live alone after hospitalization, there is a need for examination of why these senior citizens choose to live alone despite knowing the dangers.

Seniors chose to live alone for varied reasons. One of the reasons why they opt to live alone in poverty. Poor or low-income seniors are less likely to live at the facility even if they need it. Their situation exposes them to isolation, loneliness, and the risk of dying earlier as compared to their financially stable counterparts.

Another reason that makes senior citizens live alone is stubbornness. Most seniors have formed the opinion that they will get worse or die if they are put into a facility. Contrary to their thinking, most of them get well when they are housed in facilities that take care of them round the clock. Seniors want to stay in their homes indefinitely and do their daily life activities as they used to. Their need for independence is understandable, but their bodies and minds cannot cope; they forget to take their medicine, their vision is impaired and they need assistance with daily living activities like dressing, eating, and bathing.

This is especially common among seniors with early-stage or middle-stage dementia, who experience decreased cognitive functioning. When the senior begins to have problems administering their medication, poor eyesight, isolating themselves, not paying their bills on time, forgetting appointments, poor nutrition then it necessary to get them help because it is not safe for them to live alone. It is apparent that seniors should not be left to live alone at home and that they need help.

However, help cannot be given to someone who refuses it. The irony in senior care is that those who readily accept the help cannot afford it and those who can afford it constantly refuse to accept help. The concern here is the failure of seniors to follow through with their hospital discharge regimen on their own. Despite being overly stubborn or financially unable to pay for care, their loved ones always worry about them. In giving them the assistance that they need, caution has to be taken not to strip them of their dignity and sense of independence (Perissinotto, Cenzer, and Covinsky, 2012). The ultimate goal is to support the seniors who live alone after discharge without being overly controlling of their lives or taking their independence.

Since they have opted to live alone at home, they should be assisted to age as independently as they want. The first thing to do for a senior living alone after hospitalization is to prepare the home. Statistics show that a senior citizen in America has at least one fall annually.

The measure should be taken to eliminate falls. Preparing a home for an elderly person involves the removal of hazards in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. In the kitchen, for instance, shelves can be lowered to make them easily accessible and increasing lighting in the entire home. If the kitchen floor has ceramic tiles, then they should be removed and replaced with either wood or a carpet placed over them to reduce slips and falls. The bathroom should particularly be prepared to reduce falls since most of them happen there.

Rails can be placed in the bathroom for the seniors to hold. This helps in avoiding slips and falls. The bathroom should also be lined with an anti-slip mat in line with the goal of reducing or eliminating falls and slips. Technology can also help in making the home safe for seniors. Home security systems can be used to give a real-time overview of the home, which ease the worries of their loved ones or children. For example, the elderly may leave the door open, forget medication, or forget to put off the light or stove.

Technology makes it possible to remotely control things like lighting and locks by simply using a smartphone. Another thing that can be done to ensure that the seniors who live alone after hospitalization are safe is ensuring that healthcare measures are taken; contact should be maintained with the doctor or nurse of the senior to ensure that they follow through with their discharge regimens. The relatives of the senior should go the extra mile to encourage them to be active in taking care of themselves.

Technology can also be used to remind the patient when they are supposed to take their medicine. Nutrition and malnutrition are another concern for the elderly. They seldom take their food on time and sometimes even go hungry. At this age, seniors rarely cook, and they are probably too old to drive or cannot do this because of poor eyesight. This leaves home delivery as the only option. Essentials like grocery and medical refills can be delivered at home. Online grocery shops can also be used to make it easier for seniors to be independent (Perissinotto, Cenzer, and Covinsky, 2012). The seniors are living alone after hospitalization need to be in possession of personal emergency response systems (PERS), which enables them to call for help in case of an emergency just by the push of a button.

This works both for their children and loved ones, and still leave them a sense of independence. PERS has a GPS capability that makes it easy to locate a senior in case of an accident or a fall. Social isolation is another aspect that should be addressed among seniors living alone after hospitalization.

Seniors like the rest of the community need companionship and should never be left to feel lonely. Emotional contact is essential for healthy aging and seniors should be in constant touch with the outside world. A few words of reassurance go a long way in boosting the morale of an elderly person. Other ways of improving their emotional contact could be small things like listening and talking to them over the phone or through Skype especially with their children living out of town.

Finally, activities should also be incorporated into their lives through community center visits where they can meet and interact with other seniors.

References

Perissinotto, C.M., MD, MHS; Cenzer S.I, MA; Covinsky, K. E, MD, MPH. (2012). Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death. Archives of Internal Medicine.
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