Preparing Seniors for Hospital Admission and Discharge


Shorter hospital stays, which rely on the patient’s recovery continuing at home or in rehab, are particularly challenging for older adults. If you’re a caregiver to a senior parent, it’s important for you to take on care coordinator and advocacy roles for your loved one.

By doing the necessary preparation prior to hospitalization and being clear on discharge instructions, you’ll make the process much easier. That includes gathering essential documents like a living will, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, any other paperwork the hospital will need and a medication list.

Medication List
As many older adults take multiple medications, it’s critical to have an up-to-date list.

  • Brand or generic names of drugs
  • Dosage levels (such as 20 mg.)
  • Dosage amounts (how often the drug is taken)
  • Any supplements, vitamins or OTC drugs

Discharge Planning
The discharge planning process in hospitals begins as soon as the patient is admitted. Staff will be considering what will be necessary for the senior patient’s recovery upon discharge. Will home health services be required? Is there any equipment needed, such as oxygen or a wheel chair?

If the senior is returning home, discharge and home care instructions will be given to the patient and caregiver. If a stay in a skilled nursing facility is needed, the staff will coordinate most of that transition for you. But it’s critical that you be informed of these plans. To be sure you and your loved one are clear about post-hospitalization plans, ask the following questions:

  •  If new medications are added, find out dosing instructions, etc. But ask if the patient is to continue with the previous drugs, too. Ask for a written schedule.
  • Be sure you understand the treatment rationale for each medication.
  • Ask for a copy of the discharge instructions. These will include things like activity level restrictions, diet, and follow-up appointments you need to schedule.
  • Because many different physicians and staff have treated your loved one, be sure you know who to call with any care questions or concerns.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.