Older people are a vulnerable population that is often hospitalized with various infectious and chronic diseases. In addition, many of the elderly patients return to hospitals soon after discharge as they do not take care of themselves due to the lack of medical knowledge. Therefore, the education of older patients is a difficult but necessary measure, since it benefits both the patients themselves and hospitals that save resources on re-treatment of people, which could be avoided.
The most common problem that leads to the re-hospitalization of older people is a complete or partial refusal to take medication and maintain a diet. According to Verloo, Chiolero, Kiszio, Kampel, and Santschi (2017), 50% of patients with chronic diseases show inadequate medication adherence, and 10% of people are readmitted to hospitals because of this problem. Ms. Wallet, a 75-year-old woman who was discharged a couple of weeks ago after a hip fracture due to a fall after exacerbation of hypertension, confirmed this statement. Ms. Wallet said that during the last hospitalization, she was educated about the use of medication and nutrition, but she did not take them seriously. For this reason, she felt the consequences of her irresponsibility herself. In addition, the woman learned information about her condition, the need for medication, and a healthy diet in detail before the second discharge. This example demonstrates that nurses need to not only tell older people about the rules but also clearly describe the consequences of their violation.
Moreover, in this case, the nurse also inquired about the patient’s knowledge of her illness and explained some of her mistakes. For example, Ms. Wallet said that her nurse asked her if she was going to take herbal infusions instead of medicines, and the patient replied that she was considering this option. However, the nurse convinced her that even though some plants and herbs can have a positive effect on health, the patient should not refuse the doctor’s prescriptions if she does not want to go to the hospital again. Ms. Wallet noted that the warning had worked, and she did not want to replace pills. This story demonstrates that evaluating patients’ medical knowledge is also an essential part of their education. Studies show that such a measure helps to bridge knowledge gaps and debunk harmful myths, which reduces the possibility of exacerbation of diseases (Brooks, Ballinger, Nutbeam, Mander, & Adams, 2019). This measure also helped in the education of Ms. Wallet.
In general, Ms. Wallet received enough information to take care of herself. She can clearly explain the necessary nutrition, medicines, hygiene procedures, and even some exercises that help strengthen her healthy leg and avoid pressure sores. Her daughter cares for her currently, since Ms. Wallet’s injury still prevents her from moving freely. She also noted that her nurse called several times to find out about her well-being. The nurse also suggested to Ms. Wallet to buy non-slip socks to prevent falls when she began to move. Although such a measure is a manifestation of a nurse’s care, it has no scientific justification, especially in the case of Ms. Wallet, who fell due to dizziness rather than the slippery floor. In addition, studies show that the effectiveness of such socks is questionable, and they are harmful to the health of feet (Hartung & Lalonde, 2017). Another Ms. Wallet’s education gap is her lack of knowledge of help services as she does not need them yet. This aspect should be added to the education of all elderly patients to provide them with the necessary care and prevent rehospitalization.
Therefore, Ms. Wallet’s example demonstrates many features that nurses should consider in their education. Among them are teaching the rules of diet, exercise, taking medications, and explaining the consequences of ignoring them. Assessing a patient’s medical knowledge and debunking myths, as well as providing information on help and care services, are also necessary elements. Such measures can significantly prevent the exacerbation of diseases and the re-hospitalization of older people, which reduces cost of treatment in the healthcare system.
Brooks, C., Ballinger, C., Nutbeam, D., Mander, C., & Adams, J. (2019). Nursing and allied health professionals’ views about using health literacy screening tools and a universal precautions approach to communication with older adults: A qualitative study. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1–7.
Hartung, B., & Lalonde, M. (2017). The use of non-slip socks to prevent falls among hospitalized older adults: A literature review. Geriatric Nursing, 38(5), 412–416.
Verloo, H., Chiolero, A., Kiszio, B., Kampel, T., & Santschi, V. (2017). Nurse interventions to improve medication adherence among discharged older adults: A systematic review. Age and Ageing, 46(5), 747–754.