Vonnie Adams, RN, BSN, Williamsburg Landing Director of Assisted Living
As baby boomers age, hospitals are seeing a growing number of senior patients. By 2025, the population aged 65 and over is expected to grow from 48 million to 79 million. Nearly 13 million seniors are hospitalized each year and this number is expected to increase significantly by 2025. How hospitals handle a senior’s stay can determine her quality of life after discharge and greatly contribute to overall functional decline. As early as the second day of a hospital stay, deconditioning begins to occur in a patient’s baseline assessment. Early mobilization during hospitalization is safe and improves a senior patient’s outcomes, yet is an area most frequently missed during a senior’s time in the hospital.
Increased mobility is beneficial in muscle strengthening and joint flexibility. A decrease in pressure ulcers and deep vein thrombosis, as well as less falls due to balance, were also found. There is also evidence that mobilization increases a positive sense of well-being.
For every day of immobility, patients would benefit from a three-day stay in rehabilitation when discharged.
With concentrated efforts on early mobilization, seniors have a greater chance to return home with home health rather than needing rehabilitation for balance training, muscle strengthening and joint flexibility.
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