Returning home from a hospital stay can be challenging for many seniors. Many older adults struggle to manage their medications and make follow-up doctor’s appointments as well as obtain the physical assistance and support they may require. As a result, many older adults do not successfully make the transition from hospital to home care well and end up returning to the medical facility. One in five Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days after discharge. Half of all readmission’s are linked to social problems and lack of access to community resources.

Fortunately, there are thing children can do to help ensure that your elderly parent makes a successful transition home from the hospital if you start planning for their return home before their discharge from the hospital. Planning goes a long way to help patients address the questions that arise during the discharge process and make a safe return home.

Hospital stays are often very short. As soon as a doctor says your elderly parent is “medically stable,” the hospital will want to discharge them. Depending on the condition, you will want to look into hiring personal home care right away. Make sure you or the caregiver you’ve picked can contact the discharge planner at the hospital to plan a smooth transition home for your parent. There are a lot of details to work out and the sooner you start the better. Here are some important issues to keep in mind:

Make sure you have ordered all necessary equipment and supplies. A member of the hospital team or the personal home care assistant can help you with this task. When you get in touch with a home care agency, find out what the agency provides and what you must get on your own.

It’s good to have a list of questions and ask them:
• Will we need a hospital bed, shower chair, commode, oxygen supply or other equipment? If so, where do I get these items?
• What supplies do we need? This may be diapers, disposable gloves and skin care items. Where can we get these?
• Will my parent’s insurance pay for the equipment and supplies?

Additionally, you will want to ensure your parent’s home is comfortable and safe, and a good place for care. Ask the personal home care assistant if you need to do anything special to get ready. This might include making room for a hospital bed or other large equipment; moving out items that can cause falls; installing extra locks; finding a place for important information, such as a bulletin board, notebook or a drawer; etc.

It’s likely that you and the caregiver will do certain tasks as part of helping your elderly parent transition from hospital to home care. This is a challenging time for everyone involved. Don’t be afraid to ask the caregiver for advice on how to do tasks safely and properly. Ideally, you would have basic understanding of some procedures as you’ve seen hospital staff perform them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, but personal home care assistants are perfectly qualified to perform them as well. Learn what you can and be prepared to offer a helping hand to the caregiver to create a safety net around your loved one. You should communicate openly and not be afraid to voice your concerns if you don’t feel comfortable doing certain tasks (such as wound care) or helping your parent with personal hygiene (like bathing or changing adult diapers).

Personal home care assistants have great experience with anything from rehabilitation to medication dosage. In time, you will feel more comfortable relying on their advice and expertise. You may have a lot of questions during the first few days at home. Bringing outside help for a family member can be overwhelming. There are so many things to do and remember. Having a good plan is the first step. Try to focus on what must be done immediately and trust your personal home care assistant. Just like yourself, they have your elderly parent’s best interest at heart.