Hospital Discharge Tips for SeniorsAre you preparing to leave the hospital after surgery or emergency room visit?  You may feel overwhelmed and confused about what to expect upon your return home. One thing that can help you stay on track is being prepared with your checklist of questions for the discharge staff.  Here are 7 important questions you should ask your doctor upon hospital discharge…

Can we review my medicine list?

This is quite possibly one of the most important questions you can ask because discharge staff may just simply tell you that you have prescriptions that need to be filled and not go through a full review with you. If you were on medicine prior to your visit to the hospital, you will want to make sure that that medicine is included on the list. Same for new medications you were prescribed during your hospital stay that are being continued once you leave. A full review helps everyone double check there are no overlaps or mistakes.

Will these prescriptions be called in or do I need to drop them off before I pick them up?

If you are planning on leaving with a caregiver and swinging by the pharmacy to quickly pick up your prescriptions, make sure to check with discharge staff whether they actually called the medications in or whether you are going to have to drop them off yourself and wait.  Depending on the facility and their patient load, they might not call or send any prescriptions in themselves. Also, note that controlled substances cannot legally be called in for fulfillment; a written prescription has to be delivered or sent electronically to the pharmacy.

When is my follow-up appointment (and with whom)?

Any discharge from the hospital will be followed up with an appointment sometime in the next couple of weeks with a doctor, typically your general practitioner. Discharge staff should let you know when and with whom your follow-up appointment is (and that information should be printed in your discharge paperwork). If they haven’t scheduled one for you, however, it may be your responsibility to do it yourself.

Will home health care be visiting me soon?

Chances are that if your hospital visit resulted in enough degree of difficulty with mobility or functioning, then discharge will recommend home health care services. A doctor has to physically write an order for home health care, and typically a representative will speak with you and your caregiver(s) before you leave the hospital.

The fact of the matter is, however, that you will have spoken with a ton of people during your hospital say and it can be a lot to keep track of - doctors, specialists, nurses, nursing aides, therapists, social workers, nutritionists, and so on. Go ahead and verify any upcoming home health visits and contact information for the respective agency during discharge to be sure.

What should I do in the event of a fall? How can my caregiver help me if I fall?

One of the highest risks associated with re-hospitalization is falling. Your illness, injury, or even a new medicine may cause you to experience problems with balance, strength, coordination, and dizziness when you get out of the hospital. Knowing what to do in the event of a fall is critical to your recovery.

Ask discharge staff to go through the steps with you of how to safely get back up after a fall or who to call for help. It’s important that any caregivers also learn the basics of helping someone up from a fall without hurting themselves. This little bit of knowledge could be the key to staying out of the hospital for good.

What type of physical activity and diet is ok when I get back home?

What you think is acceptable as far as physical activity goes might not necessarily be what your medical providers think is ok. Confirm whether you should limit your activity or try to return to the normal levels and whether you should be utilizing a medical walking aid like a cane or walker.

Ditto for your diet - are there food groups you need to avoid or certain foods you should try and eat more of? Nutrition and exercise are going to play essential roles in helping your body recover after a hospital stay so don’t let this topic go undiscussed.

Who do I call if I have any questions?

It is the responsibility of the hospital to make sure that you are well-informed, safe, and ready to go back home when they discharge you. That includes letting you know who to reach out to if you have problems, questions, or concerns. Don’t hesitate to ask what the best number is to reach somebody who can help you if you have a question, for example, about a new medication.