No one likes hospitals, and every patient is eager to get out of there as soon as possible. Once they escape the uncomfortable, sterile environment full of strangers, they just want to go home – to retreat to their own space. It’s perfectly normal, but what if it’s not an option?
For some aging patients, especially if they’re very sick, they may not be able to take care of themselves, and if they live alone, going home after the hospital could be dangerous. At that point, if you’re the caregiver, you’ll have some tough choices to make. You can ask for advice, but the decision will ultimately be yours and you will have to make it based on the needs of your loved one.
In the best-case scenario, you might be able to hire someone to come in and help your loved one around the house. If your loved one needs help cooking and cleaning, but is otherwise healthy and self-sufficient (i.e. you don’t need to worry about them accidentally leaving the oven on or not being able to get out of bed on their own), a home nurse might be a good option. This is also a possibility when your loved one does live with someone (such as a partner or an adult child) who can look after them, but needs some help with the caretaking.
Whether or not this is an option will also depend on your financial situation and where your loved one lives. In some of the more rural areas, it might not be possible to get someone out there.
Assisted Living Facility
The last thing most patients want to do is move from a hospital to another strange environment, but if you’ve decided assisted living is the way to go, you’re going to have to convince your loved one it’s in their own best interests. Assisted living is a great option for people with a variety of needs. Most of them have different levels of care, so if your loved one is still relatively self-sufficient, but needs some help with daily tasks, an assisted living facility can be ideal. If they need more extensive care, they can also probably find what they need in an assisted living facility.
If/when your loved one gets to the point of needing professional medical attention on a regular basis, they might need to go from the hospital to a nursing home. Like hospitals, nursing homes maintain a nursing staff 24/7. They cannot perform surgeries or run many of the tests that hospitals can perform, but they can help take care of patients with chronic and/or deteriorating medical conditions.
The worst-case scenario is hospice. This is for when it has become clear your loved one will never get better. Their condition will only continue to deteriorate until the end, and while keeping them in the hospital might delay the inevitable, few people prefer to die in a hospital. Hospice can give them the care they need while helping to make them as comfortable as possible in their final days.