Minnesota winters can be harsh on all of us, but seniors especially run a much higher risk of hospitalization during the bitter cold winter months. We think of their vulnerability to colds, influenza, pneumonia and other respiratory infections which is far more prevalent in senior care facilities compared to seniors living in their home. Weather-related falls and accidents partly due to icy Minnesota roads and sidewalks are also a high risk factor for seniors, but there are several other warning signs to look for to help prevent hospitalization.
To provide families with resources to minimize the major risk factors and to play an active role in hospitalization prevention, Home Instead, Inc. has created the Five Ways to Prevent Senior HospitalizationsSM guide. This guide identifies potential warning signs and risks and offers five key actions to help prevent senior hospitalization. Click here to download your copy.
Another tool available from Home Instead is the Hospitalization Risk Meter. This easy-to-read guide teaches you about various warning signs along the way. Just slide the button between lower risk to moderate risk to higher risk and be sure to check out the resource links on each page to learn more about potential risks and help prevent senior hospitalizations.
Whether you’re a family member of a senior or a patient advocate, there are top risk factors and warning signs to watch for. The most common actions by aging adults that can help keep them out of the hospital are:
- Don’t ignore symptoms or wait too long to see a doctor
- Reduce the risk of falls and accidents whenever possible
- Follow your doctor’s orders
- Stay active, both physically and mentally
- Maintain a healthy diet
There are top lifestyle and health factors that could place seniors significantly more at-risk of hospitalization. The top lifestyle factors are: (The percent refers to nurses who said each factor puts seniors significantly more at risk.)
- Skipping health maintenance – 85.8%
- No one checking in on the senior adult – 77.5%
- Being physically inactive/frail – 76.0%
- Living alone/isolation – 73.3%
The top health factors are: (The percent refers to nurses who said each factor puts seniors significantly more at risk.)
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s – 88.3%
- Having 3 or more chronic health conditions – 86.8%
- Mobility issues – 78.3%
- History of hospitalizations – 73.5%
If your senior loved one is not tracking their daily medications, not following doctor’s orders, show a major change in behavior or is isolated, they are experiencing the most serious warning signs that indicate high risk of hospitalization.
Each section of Home Instead’s guide outlines some warning signs and risk factors, as well as specific preventative steps and resources. The goal of this guide is to strengthen the role family can take in hospitalization prevention, and to help them feel more confident about steps they can take to help keep their senior safe at home.
A hospital stay may be necessary and beneficial. But if there are ways to safely avoid it, most seniors and their caregivers would prefer that. Keeping a watchful eye on your aging loved one is important any time of the year, but especially in the winter months when their risk for hospitalization is greatly increased. Using Home Instead’s 5 Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations guide and the Hospitalization Risk Meter can help family members and care providers reduce that risk and ensure your loved one stays healthy and safe at home.