In this article, we discuss an important part of maintaining dignity for seniors, and what to expect during the hospital discharge process to really create the best long-term outcomes. 

Why are hospital admissions and discharges so stressful? When someone is in the hospital, the standard best practice is that you or your loved one will be assigned an RN, case manager, and a social worker who will work on the plans for discharge. They become the central part of the clinical team within the hospital, and they should be talking to you about the discharge from the beginning of the hospitalization. 

However, be ready for that plan to be a moving target. One day, they will tell you what to expect, and then the next day, what they tell you is likely to be very different. Due to changing circumstances and new tests and new information that is received by the clinical team, discharge plans are often evolving and changing, and this can cause family members to begin feeling confused, and sometimes really angry.

Although being discharged often feels like a destination, the discharge process is an evolving journey of uncertainty. And that’s what makes planning for discharge really frustrating. 

What if a home discharge isn’t the option? Seniors often demand to go home instead of participating in critical inpatient or acute rehabilitation therapy programs. Seniors are often concerned about their independence. Older Adults worry that going to skilled or acute rehabilitation might be the first step to someone trying to take their freedom away. 

Seniors will sometimes push for a decision that isn’t in their best interest because they envision that they’ll be able to function as they did before the hospital stay. Seniors usually have a functional decline after several days in the hospital, and they don’t often recognize that they will not be able to complete their activities of daily living. Dementia can also cause seniors to think that they are functioning better than they are. 

Skilled or acute rehabilitation is most often the next step in a journey for seniors who have been hospitalized for more than a day or two. They should always follow medical recommendations. Not following medical recommendations leaves seniors at risk and it is what we see most often as limiting dignity for seniors as they age. 

With all of this said, being admitted into the hospital is a very stressful time. It is filled with fear and worry. Studies indicate that for seniors and their family, the real danger is 30 days following the discharge. 

We have a free download of the six essential steps to managing hospitalization. If you need more assistance than is offered in this article, you can contact us toll free at 855-456-7972 or visit our website at