Many people assume the best way for older adults to heal from serious injury or illness is to keep them in the hospital. But there are many reasons why allowing seniors to recover at home is better, Catherine Merkey, outreach coordinator for Masonic Village Home Health, said.
The most obvious reason is people sleep better in their own beds, and sleep is a critical component to healing. The light, constant interruptions, equipment sounds and talking at a hospital is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. People are also more comfortable in their own home. There is less anxiety and worrying, which promotes healing.
“You also have the very clinically-based fact that hospitals are known for spreading infections, so just being at home lowers your risk for getting any type of infection versus a hospital setting, which is filled with germs and bacteria,” Catherine said.
Home health workers provide skilled nursing, physical therapy and occupational therapy services. When teaching or re-teaching patients how to safely move around in their homes – from taking a shower with a new artificial knee to walking up and down the stairs safely – it’s better for them to actually be at home.
There is a nutritional benefit to being at home, as well. Patients are able to eat foods they are comfortable with versus hospital food. Their social network is also more intact at home versus having family and friends visit them in a hospital during specified visiting hours.
Costs to insurance companies and to the overall health system are significantly lower if the patient stays at home, Catherine said. “It costs a fortune to have someone in the hospital for 24 hours or more. That’s why insurance companies much prefer getting someone discharged and in home health services. It is way less expensive.”
Often in a hospital setting, the days can blur together without a set schedule. Eating and sleeping patterns are often thrown off by tests, recovery and the schedule of the hospital staff. Coming home can mean a chance for people to retrain their bodies’ clocks and get individual routines going again.
Understanding the benefits of healing at home could be just what the doctor ordered!