March 9, 2012
Returning home from a hospital stay can result in unexpected challenges for many seniors and as a result, millions of older Americans are spending billions of dollars on healthcare costs every year that could be avoided through simple planning and preparation prior to being admitted to the hospital. Nearly one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days due to an injury resulting from medical management – not the underlying disease – costing over $26 billion every year. Some studies have found that between 40 percent and 50 percent of readmissions are linked to social problems and lack of community resources.
Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), recently launched a national campaign encouraging older adults, caregivers, and their families to discuss potential hospital visits and start planning ahead for a smooth transition from the hospital to the home. Locally, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) is supporting the campaign by raising awareness for more effective care transitions in the ten counties included in their district – Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton. The AAA7 provides home and community-based services to older adults age 60 and older and disabled individuals over the age of 18.
“We strongly encourage the families in the counties we serve to take some time to address these issues and plan ahead so that when medical issues arise, a plan is in place,” said Bonnie Dingess, Director of Long-Term Care Programs at the AAA7. “Consumers can save on healthcare costs and most importantly, save lives.”
Eldercare Locator and the United Hospital Fund’s Next Step in Care (www.nextstepincare.org) released a consumer guide that can be used by families and caregivers to lead the discussion. The guide, which provides planning tips for pre-hospital check-in as well as post-checkout from the hospital, is available on the AAA7’s website at www.aaa7.org. Some of the questions the public is encouraged to address prior to being admitted to a hospital include: What do you need to bring? If you are not going to be well enough to care for yourself when you are released, where will you go? Will you need help getting around? Will you need equipment and supplies? Will you be able to take the appropriate medications without help the first days out of the hospital? Who will assist you? How long will you need assistance?
“As we age, the likelihood of a hospital stay increases and it is critical to plan before that time arrives,” said Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “We encourage families and caregivers to take advantage of their time with older relatives to talk about the brochure’s important cost-saving and potentially life-saving tips.”
Currently, the AAA7 is working with local hospitals within its district concerning ways to improve the transition from hospital to home. In addition, the Agency works with a number of physicians, home health agencies, and nursing facilities throughout its ten-county district to achieve the aim of the Care Transitions Program in improving the health and well-being of individuals in our communities.
For more information about the “Hospital to Home” consumer guide, please contact the AAA7 toll-free at 1-800-582-7277, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The guide is also available on the AAA7’s website at www.aaa7.org. When on the website, click on the “Provider Resources” link on the left side of the Home Page. Then, click on “Additional Resource Links.” At the bottom of the next page, click on “Hospital to Home – Plan for a Smooth Transition.”
Your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. provides services on a non-discriminatory basis. These services are available to help older adults and those with disabilities live safely and independently in their own homes through services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, other federal and state resources, as well as private pay. The AAA7’s Resource Center is also available to anyone in the community looking for information or assistance with long-term care options. Available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm, the Resource Center is a valuable contact for learning more about options and what programs and services are available for assistance.
Those interested in learning more can call toll-free at 1-800-582-7277 (TTY: 711). Here, individuals can speak directly with a nurse or social worker who will assist them with information surrounding the programs and services that are available to best serve their needs. The Agency also offers an in-home assessment at no cost for those who are interested in learning more. Information is also available on www.aaa7.org, or the Agency can be contacted through e-mail at email@example.com. The Agency also has a Facebook page located at www.facebook.com/AreaAgencyOnAgingDistrict7.