It is a fairly common expectation for seniors, as well as family members, to expect a return to their pre-hospital or pre-rehab health levels upon discharge from a rehab facility. Unfortunately, this is not practical. And not maintaining realistic expectations about recovery can lead to disappointment and depression.

Many older adults will need to make lifestyle changes to prevent the kind of event that precipitated the hospitalization from happening again. This may include new medications, a new diet, or exercise modifications.

It is important to spend time constructing a plan for discharge. Be aware of an elder’s physical needs, medications, household functionality, and local resources – where to call for additional assistance if needed.

— Make sure you know as much as you can about your elderly parents and their illness.
— Identify and understand medications. Does new medicine interact with medicine taken prior to hospitalization? Are there possible side effects?
— Does the home require modification to accommodate a senior? Is bathroom accessible? Would a stairlift be helpful? Is the home wheelchair accessible?
— What transportation is needed for follow-up to medical appointments?
— Has the social worker provided a discharge plan which summarizes medications, nutritional needs, possible physical therapy?
— Will your elderly parent be living alone? And/or, does the home health aide understand the care and assistance which might be required?
— Make sure you, or the home health agency, understand the therapy or treatment which is needed to ensure the best outcome.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: