Active Caregiving Can Keep You Out of the Hospital
A study published by the American Geriatrics Society* found that when caregivers and patients take a more active role during transitions between care environments, the rate of subsequent hospitalizations is greatly reduced.
Primary to this active role for reducing hospital re-admissions is a Personal Medical Record. The simple form with all the vital information can be kept in a wallet or purse and should be brought to all doctor appointments. Click here for an example of a Personal Medical Record similar to the one used in the study.
Another central aspect of the active caregiving approach is to make sure some very important tasks are completed following any hospitalization.
Before leaving the hospital, make sure the patient:
- has been involved in decisions about what will take place after they leave the facility
- understands where they are going after leaving this facility and what will happen once they arrive
- has the name and phone number of a person to contact if a problem arises during their transfer
- understands what their medications are, how to obtain them, and how to take them
- understands the potential side effects of their medications and who to call if they experience them
- knows what symptoms to watch out for and who to call if they notice them
- understands how to keep their health problems from becoming worse
- has asked their doctors and nurses their most important questions prior to leaving the facility
- has informed someone close to them that they are coming home and what assistance they will need after leaving the facility
- has scheduled a follow-up appointment with their doctor and has arranged for transportation to the appointment
Also important to the active caregiving approach to personal health is to review the following list of tasks with the person and make sure they comply:
- Take Personal Health Record with them wherever they go, including ALL doctor visits and future hospitalizations.
- Call their doctor with any questions about medications or if they want to change how they take medications.
- Tell doctors about ALL medications including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, are herbal formulas.
- Update the Medication Record with any changes to medications.
- Know why they are taking each medication.
- Know how much, when, and for how long they’re supposed to take each medication.
- Know possible medication side effects to watch out for and what to do if they experience any side effects.
* Coleman, A et. al “Preparing Patients and Caregivers to Participate in Care Delivered Across Settings: The Care Transitions Intervention” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2004http://www.allwayshomecare.org/active-caregiving-can-keep-you-out-of-the-hospital/Caregiver TrainingHome Care Basics