People go to the hospital to get better, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with elderly adults, who can be at greater risk of getting discharged in worse condition than when admitted. This risk not only contributes to higher overall financial and physical health costs – longer hospital stays, time in rehab, worsening memory or fragility – but also threatens a senior’s ability to continue to live at home independently.
Kaiser Health News senior correspondent Anna Gorman looked into this problem – and what’s being done to address it – in her series, Diagnosis: Unprepared. Gorman created the project as part of her Journalists in Aging Fellowship offered by the Gerontological Society of America ad New America Media. What she discovered while reporting it was a slew of secondary problems that were unrelated to the elder’s original reason for admission.
In a new How I Did It, Gorman explains that even when patient’s acute health issue is fixed, lack of proper feeding and movement, or over medication issues can leave many seniors with additional health challenges from which they never recover. Sometimes, these problems even can hasten their death. Gaining access to hospitals, and finding patients willing to discuss the issue for publication, were among several hurdles that Gorman had to overcome.