Hospitals Strive to Keep Seniors As Fit as When They Came In

You may have seen it with your relatives—even your own parents. The hospital stay that marks the beginning of a downward spiral. Your loved one emerges frailer than before and never fully recovers.

A few hospitals are working to change this pattern, The Associated Press reports. They’ve set up special elder-care units and are testing methods to help older patients maintain strength and functioning during their stay.

The methods include simple things like helping patients walk around the unit more and encouraging them to eat, the article says.*

Often there is carpeting, special lighting or curtains to make older patients feel more at home. But the concept also involves challenging standard practices, from bed rest and feeding methods to routine use of things like urinary catheters that can increase risk of infection and which studies have shown are often needlessly used in older patients.

Fewer than 300 hospitals have these elder-care units, the article says. Their efforts would seem to go hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce preventable readmissions—another problem hospitals are fighting. Preferred Care at Home will soon be launching a major effort to help improve the latter by partnering with hospitalized patients themselves. After all, as geriatric specialist Dr. Kenneth Covinsky says in the article,

“Life has 100 percent mortality. But if you can change the age at which people lose function,” they may live longer, better lives.

*This link will take you to the Associated Press article as it appeared on USA Today’s website. Articles from The Associated Press may remain online only for a limited time.

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