Healthcare for the Elderly: What Should You Look For?

senior with caregiver

Healthcare for the elderly is a special brand of service that requires scientific knowledge and a deep understanding of what older patients need from healthcare facilities. Many senior patients have delicate constitutions and need gentle and attentive care.

If you are looking for a healthcare facility on behalf of an elderly parent or relative, or if you are a senior in need of quality healthcare, here are some facilities and services you should look for in a provider.

Geriatric nurse practitioners and geriatricians

Nurses who have experience in assisting elderly patients can anticipate patients’ needs even if they don’t mention them or cannot articulate those needs well. The same goes for physicians who specialize in providing medical care to seniors. These professionals know the unique needs of the elderly, and the really good ones have a positive bedside manner that encourages patients to stay optimistic and participate in their treatment program.

Senior-friendly beds

Standard hospital beds and accommodations are not exactly calibrated for seniors’ needs. There are many potential zones of entrapment, like between and under the rails and the gaps between the mattress and headboard or footboard. Standard hospital bed frames are also eight to 12 inches higher than bed frames at home. Even with a footstool, elderly patients have a high risk of falling at these heights. If you or a senior you know must stay in a hospital for a while, make sure the facility has beds for seniors that can be adjusted to as low as 16 to 24 inches from the floor (which roughly puts the bed frame on the same level as the patient’s knees).

Room amenities for seniors and people with disabilities

senior being assisted

Patients who need assistance getting on and off the bed will be more comfortable if suites equipped with aids for people with limited mobility. Examples of these amenities are:

Ceiling hoist for a disabled person

A hydraulic system with a sling seat that lifts patients from point A (e.g., the bed) to point B (e.g., a nearby chair, before the toilet door). A ceiling hoist can be portable or permanently mounted on the ceiling (fixed hoists).

Freestanding hoists

These are used alongside portable hoists and can be used as aids for physical rehabilitation.

Concealed rail systems

Ceiling rails are essentially the tracks for ceiling hoists. The layout of the rails pretty much dictates where the hoist can go. Minimal set-ups cover the bed and guest’s sitting area — just one rail that runs across the room.

Accepts Medicare (or whatever Insurance you own)

It would be terrible if you or someone you know ends up in a hospital that doesn’t accept Medicare; the financial burden could be tremendous and very well be the cause of more distress for everyone involved. If you or someone you live with is already in the sixties, make a point of finding the hospitals in your vicinity that accepts Medicare. At the very least, you’ll know where to go if there’s a need for emergency medical care. You can decide afterward if staying in the same hospital will be prudent, or if you’re better off transferring to another facility.

Has a multidisciplinary approach to treatment

Elderly patients are at risk of getting weaker the longer they stay in a hospital. The most common reason, according to researchers and physicians, is they are vastly restricted upon admission. Well-meaning doctors advise bed rest, but prolonged immobility can also have a negative impact on a patient’s mental and physical health. It’s best to find a facility and doctors who have a reputation for treating senior patients with a multidisciplinary care program that covers the medication, socialization, and physical rehabilitation.

Provides discharge plans to senior patients

Discharge planning for elderly patients is crucial because it helps reduce the likelihood of readmission. People should know that quality elderly healthcare doesn’t end when the patient leaves the hospital. Ideally, geriatricians will inform patients and their companions or caregivers of the things they need to do to ensure continuous recovery. Hospitals that don’t provide adequate discharge care tend to have high readmission rates: you may use this figure as a determinant for this criteria.

A senior patient may have more requirements and non-negotiables (e.g., must be equipped with a CT scanner, ambulatory services, etc) depending on his or her medical condition. This article can get you started on what to look for when looking for a healthcare facility for senior patients.

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