According to a recent study by Home Instead Inc. of over 400 senior care nurses in North America, 49 per cent of senior hospitalizations are preventable. Here are five specific actions that can be taken to keep medical conditions from worsening and to stay out of the hospital.
1. Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
Your doctor will usually recommend regimens for taking medication, lifestyle changes and other items to help you manage current medical conditions and prevent future ones. The next time you go, note down your doctor’s recommendations and share them with your spouse or family members so they can help keep you on track.
2. Don’t Ignore Symptoms
Everyone is guilty of ignoring medical symptoms, particularly when they are just uncomfortable rather than painful. However, if you already have medical conditions, you shouldn’t ignore even vague symptoms. Schedule a doctor’s appointment if you notice anything off with your body – people won’t think you’re a hypochondriac for taking care of yourself.
3. Reduce accident and fall risk
One in three seniors will fall each year. To reduce the risk of a fall, remove obstacles from your home such as throw rugs and general clutter, make sure stair rails are secure and install handrails in your bathtub. Here is a handy fall prevention guide from Health Canada.
4. Stay active physically and mentally
Physical activity can help improve a variety of medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Talk to your doctor about what kind of physical activity you can safely participate in and find something that you like to do. Mental fitness is also important – read books, take a course at a local community centre, or something else instead of vegging out in front of the television.
5. Maintain healthy eating habits
We all know we should follow a healthy diet, but a craving for comfort foods or a bag of potato chips can derail our intentions. Then there is the word “diet” – diets don’t tend to work out in the long term. The best way to approach healthy eating is slowly. Do one thing a month to make your diet healthier, unless you need to make immediate changes to follow the recommendations of your doctor. It can be something as minor as making sure you drink more water for a month, or eat an extra couple of servings of fruits and vegetables. As the months add up, you’ll start feeling the cumulative effects.
Hospitals aren’t a safe place for seniors. If you come in with a sprained ankle from a fall, there’s a good chance you could leave with a bug of some kind. If you follow the above recommendations, you’ll be more likely to stay away from emergency rooms and hospitals in general – and be enjoying a happier retirement in the bargain.