Post-Hospital Syndrome and Aging Parents

Hospital stays are stressful for anyone but can turn out tragic for frail seniors. Arriving with diminished physical reserves, they are subjected to a world of frequent needle sticks, unappetizing food, sleep deprivation and long waits for doctors. Even if their treatment is deemed successful, frail seniors often leave the hospital deconditioned, malnourished, stressed and utterly exhausted. Within days or weeks after being discharged, they can wind up being readmitted or dying. The majority of those readmitted are not having a relapse of their original medical problem. Rather, they are readmitted with a new affliction caused by their enhanced susceptibility, a condition described as the post-hospital syndrome.

Last year JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) published a comment in The Daily Briefing that offered some common sense steps hospitals can take to reduce the incidence of post-hosptial syndrome. Theses included:

1. Decorating hospitals with cheerful décor
2. Allowing patients to wear their own clothing instead of hospital gowns
3. Reducing the use of needles and number of procedures that patients must undergo
4. Changing the food patients are served from a “draconian unsavory diet” to more healthful options
5. Halting unnecessary mid-night wake-ups

The hope is that hospitals will combine the heroics of “save your life” medicine with the healing benefits of restorative colors, comfy cloths, good food, ample sleep, and kinder protocols especially for frail seniors.