February 16, 2015 6:25 pm
Updated: February 17, 2015 7:31 am

Nearly half of all senior hospitalizations can be avoided

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Watch above: According to research conducted by Home Instead Inc., nearly half of all senior hospitalizations could be avoided. Meaghan Craig explains the five preventative actions experts say should be followed.

SASKATOON – Nearly 49 per cent of senior hospitalizations could be avoided if the proper preventative steps are taken. This data is crucial as the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) tackles overcapacity issues region-wide.

As of last week, discharges were exceeding admissions at local hospitals but numbers weren’t budging when it came to patients still waiting for long-term care.

Home Instead, Inc. surveyed 400 North American nurses who specialize in senior care. Its findings suggest there are five preventative actions that could keep a senior citizen out of the hospital:

Those in health care agree while the overarching goal of the entire population is to stay healthy enough to avoid a visit to the hospital, it’s especially important for seniors.

“Sometimes seniors, if they are relegated to bed rest, lose whatever stress and mobility they have so the longer people stay in hospital, the more likely that they could lose an ability that they had previously,” said Greg Charyna, owner of Home Instead Senior Care.

The findings also show nearly all of the nurses surveyed said there was one very powerful factor that helps seniors stay out of the hospital: their families.

“When family are involved and engaged, regularly having contact, the senior has a higher likelihood of maintaining these five things we’ve been talking about and preventing hospitalization unnecessarily,” added Charyna.

READ MORE: Seniors access to health care a concern

The guide, also released by the group, not only highlights the survey’s findings but signs and risks families should look for and ways to help a senior maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“There can also be a growing sense of ‘If I say anything to my kids they’re going to change where I’m living’ and there’s a real fear there,” explained Charyna.

“I think what family can do is ensure their loved one that the whole goal here is work together so that you get stay in your home as long as possible, let’s do everything we can so you that you can remain stay here.”

One of the five key steps to prevent senior hospitalizations? Reducing the risk of falls and accidents.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, falls remain the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and contribute to approximately 85 per cent of hospitalizations among Canadian seniors.

It’s also estimated that one in every three seniors is likely to fall at least once every year.

The signs and risks:

  • Previous falls and accidents
  • Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia diagnosis
  • Inactivity
  • Isolation
  • Presence of throw rugs and other tripping hazards
  • Lack of grab bars and proper lighting
  • Problems with vision or hearing
  • Decrease in gait speed or shuffling
  • Difficulties in managing medications

The following are some steps the guide recommends to help identify potential fall risks and solutions:

  1. The assessment and balance video at PreventSeniorHospitalizations.ca can help family caregivers determine the potential for their senior loved ones to fall and tap into exercises that could help strengthen their balance.
  2. Many emergency room doctors recommend that families conduct an annual home safety check of their seniors’ homes. Go to MakingHomeSaferforSeniors.ca for an interactive home safety tour.
  3. A home safety checklist at MakingHomeSaferforSeniors.ca includes a comprehensive list of ways to help safety-proof an older adult’s home.
  4. Go to GetMomMoving.com to learn how some seniors become frail and review simple exercises that could help to improve their physical health.
  5. Make sure that someone is checking on an older adult each day if he or she lives alone. Look into an emergency alert system or call your local Home Instead Senior Care office.

For more information to prevent senior hospitalizations see the full guide.

To inquire about services or anyone with questions on how to start a senior care plan, you can reach Home Instead Senior Care in Saskatoon at 1-306-931-4663.

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