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Fox News recently published a new article titled Out of bed! Hospitals aim to keep elderly strong that highlights a growing trend in major hospitals that has hospitals focusing more on the unique care needs of elderly patients, with an eye to their needs that are different from those of younger patients.
Elderly Patients Have Unique Care Needs
This is important because, according to the article,
“At least one-third of hospital patients older than 70 leave more frail than when they arrived, and many become too weak to go home. Nursing home care or rehabilitation often are needed, and even then, research suggests more than two-thirds remain weaker a year after being in the hospital.”
Benefits Of New Hospital Programs
Of particular interest for those responsible for care for the elderly in San Diego County are features in these new approaches such as:
“…changing standard mealtime practices to keep patients from losing weight. Busy staff may overlook whether patients eat, said Dr. Kellie Flood, medical director of a special elder-care unit at Highlands, operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
One impediment is plastic wrapping the food, often a challenge for an older person’s arthritic hands. Flood has enlisted college students to help remove the wrappers. Volunteers sometimes help feed patients, spending time with them during meals, making conversation that often helps lonely older people feel more like eating, Flood said.
Another feature of many of these new programs is a new emphasis on getting elderly hospital patients walking and keeping them walking.
“Days of bed rest raise chances for infection, can slow recovery from common conditions in the elderly including pneumonia, and contribute to surprisingly rapid loss of muscle strength in older patients. Dina Lipowich, Northwest’s head of nursing and geriatrics, said the hospital is evaluating whether the walking program has reduced those risks.
‘We want to preserve their independence,” Lipowich said. “Gone are the days when we needed to stay in bed to get better.'”