Avoiding readmissions after rehabilitation

Published Mar 26, 2014 at 5:35 am (Updated Mar 21, 2014 at 5:01 pm)

These days, hospital stays are short. Following an elective surgery or a medical event, your doctor may recommend a period of rehabilitation. That may include physical, occupational, respiratory and other therapies provided as outpatient services or at a nursing or rehabilitation center. Though it may feel great to finally get back home, your recuperation process is still not over. Getting back to your pre-event lifestyle will take time. Baptist Homes Society’s rehabilitation and wellness staff offers its recommendations to help you ensure a successful recovery:

“Discuss your discharge instructions with your therapist, discharge planner or other medical professional. To support your continued recovery, you should have a full understanding of what will be expected of you in the next few weeks. Read the materials carefully and follow all directions. Know your limits and restrictions on what you can do. For example, you might not be able to drive, take a bath, lift heavy things or walk up or down stairs,” said Dana Belles, PTA, Providence Point.

“Falling, unfortunately, is a real problem for folks returning home. To prevent falls, make sure your home is free from clutter and tripping hazards. Add safety equipment like grab bars in the bathroom and railings on stairs. Get electrical cords out of the way, and secure throw rugs to the floor. Also, don’t try to make your way around in the dark. You may think you know your way around your home blindfolded, but good lighting is essential, especially near stairs and in bathrooms,” said Susan Polka, PTA, Baptist Homes.

“Prescribed medicines can sometimes make you light-headed. Let your doctor know if this is the case. If you are not sure how a medication will affect you, plan your dosage so that you can be safe in case you experience side effects. Creating a ‘recovery center’ in your home is also a good idea. Medications, a jug of water and a glass, your favorite reading materials, the TV remote, tissues and your cane, walker or crutches can be placed conveniently next to your favorite chair,” said Lindsey Lepley, SLP, Providence Point.

“Slow and steady. After surgery, your center of balance and your strength may take some time to fully recover. Slow, steady movements will help you regain muscle control and keep you safe. Turn the whole body before trying to lift or reach. Avoid rushing to do things like answering the phone or door,” said Marty Witt, PTA, Baptist Homes.

“Eat well, drink plenty of fluids and sleep soundly. Good nutrition will help you heal more quickly. Staying hydrated and getting your sleep will also speed your recovery. In fact, these are three important tips to follow throughout your life,” said Fabiana Cheistwer, wellness director, Baptist Homes Society.

“Managing medications is a vital part of your recovery. Making sure that they are stored properly, that they are refilled, what each drug is for, when you should take it, and with or without food. It can be overwhelming. Keep a checklist handy, ask your pharmacist for an organizer or multi-day dispenser and review your medications each time you see your doctor,” said Maria Pfaff, OT, Baptist Homes.

“Follow up with your doctor as recommended and be sure to ask questions. At home, keep a pen and paper handy and note any questions that pop into your head. Bring your notes with you. Are there any symptoms that you must report right away, such as fever, intense pain or shortness of breath? If you notice these symptoms, who do you call and what should you do?” said Beverly Fitzwilliam, OTA, Baptist Homes.

Keep emergency numbers handy. Make sure you have phone numbers for people on the hospital team, as well as any others involved in your care. Also, keep a listing of community services you may need. If you are going to be home alone, it might be wise to invest in a medical alert pendant or other personal emergency alert system until you are fully recovered.

The last thing you want to do is return to the hospital in need of more care and more recovery. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for assistance if needed in helping you implement these simple tips that can help prevent that situation.

For more information on the Baptist Homes Society, visit www.baptisthomesociety.org.

Marilyn Walsh is the director of marketing and public relations for the Baptist Homes Society.

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