Some hospital readmissions are necessary for seniors, but they can have several detrimental effects. Hospital workers and caregivers can take steps to reduce readmissions, but many times they’re inevitable. Still it’s important to prevent them whenever possible. Here are some of the reasons hospital readmissions are bad for seniors.
1. Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
Antibiotic-resistant staph infections are resistant to common broad-spectrum antibiotics and require the use of stronger antibiotics such as vancomycin, which can cause serious side effects such as liver problems, weight loss, wheezing, and renal disease. Some older adults may be unable to tolerate these antibiotics, and their doctors will need to discontinue the medications, which may result in a worsening of the infection or a secondary infection.
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2. Dietary Issues
New foods and mealtimes can disrupt the gastrointestinal system, leading to nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. If your loved one is unable to tolerate hospital food or mealtimes, ask permission from the physician to bring in your loved one’s favorite foods at the times he or she feels comfortable eating.
3. Work Disruptions
Some seniors are still actively employed, and when they’re readmitted into the hospital, they’re unable to work. If your loved one has used up all of his or her sick days or doesn’t get paid for taking time off work, financial hardships could arise, which may be especially distressful if he or she has mounting medical bills, household expenses, and prescription drug costs.
Hospital readmissions can prevent aging adults from exercising. Prolonged periods of bed rest can cause deconditioning. If this happens, your loved one may become weak and develop muscle and joint pain, swelling of the legs and ankles, poor circulation, and heart problems. It could also lead to flexibility issues, osteoporosis, muscle atrophy, and contractures. If your loved one becomes deconditioned, the doctor may recommend starting a physical therapy program in the hospital before going home so your loved one can regain strength before getting discharged.
5. Cognitive Decline
Cognitive decline may be more common in people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, but it can occur in other aging adults as well. New situations can cause confusion, which may be especially pronounced at night. This phenomenon is often called “sundowning,” because confusion and other undesirable behaviors occur when the sun goes down.
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6. Sleep Deficits
Rest and high-quality sleep is often disrupted during hospitalizations. Multiple hospital readmissions can lead to serious sleep deprivation, which may raise the risk of anxiety, depression, confusion, and daytime sleepiness. While the physician can prescribe sleep medications when your loved one is in the hospital, the medicine could cause serious side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, balance impairment, and memory problems.
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