What happens when a patient with mobility challenges returns home from the hospital? Without proper support, they may easily become part of the 20% of patients readmitted to the hospital within just 30 days of being discharged for the same condition. For many of these individuals, the most significant hurdles in their road to recovery occur after they leave the hospital system, only to return to an empty, quiet home with no support system and the same unhealthy habits. The lack of positive reinforcement or inspiration in their everyday lives can prevent them from being more active or even following their discharge orders.
Currently, more than 18 million people in the United States, including approximately 3.6 million seniors, face limited mobility. For this substantial population of Americans, long-term care, especially in the form of life enrichment or companionship programs, can ensure the best long-term outcomes and prevent hospital readmission after discharge. Yet, throughout the continuum of care, it is often most neglected. As homecare providers, offering holistic care is key to improving all aspects of a client’s well-being, and a well-crafted life enrichment program can make all the difference. Here are several reasons why:
1. Following Discharge Orders
Leaving the controlled environment of a hospital room with 24-hour care and a dedicated staff only to be left alone without the same level of support can make a relapse inevitable for many facing mobility challenges. It’s a major reason why approximately $26 billion is spent annually on hospital readmissions, with $17 billion—65% of that total—considered avoidable.
The transition to life at home after an extended hospital stay, combined with pain or discomfort following a surgical procedure, can lead to a downward spiral of emotions when someone is left unattended for long hours of the day. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. A dedicated companionship and life enrichment program can play a significant role in the success of a client’s recovery by providing the physical and mental encouragement needed to follow discharge orders. Having additional support at home throughout the day, or even 24-hour care, can provide peace of mind and enjoyment during what could be a client’s most difficult season.
Life enrichment can also serve as a much-needed reminder of the joys still to be experienced and meaningful life memories still to be made following their recovery. It’s more than just another person in the home or a program to follow; it’s something to look forward to each day, especially amid a period of uncertainty. Concurrently, as providers, we can use this time to observe and mitigate potential health risks to help them avoid hospital readmission for circumstances that can be prevented through proper care at home.
2. Regaining Physical Strength & Independence at Home
Consistency is key when it comes to completing physical rehabilitation or simply adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. This is when a caregiver can make all the difference. Whether it’s assisting clients with mobility exercises or monitoring them as they perform activities that require a moderate amount of physical exertion, a companion to join in and help when needed can empower them to sustain their routines or complete an exercise regimen. Caregivers can also adjust their level of support as clients gradually regain their physical strength.
Reinforcing positive habits can also start in the kitchen, especially for those facing health complications due to obesity. A life enrichment program can complement a physical recovery program by ensuring nutritious meals and snacks and keeping caloric intake in check as they progress toward their goals and gain mobility.
3. Personal Growth & Development
A life enrichment program can be a transformative experience for clients, allowing them to rediscover the activities they once loved but thought were no longer possible due to physical limitations or the fear of sustaining injuries. With the support of a compassionate and nurturing caregiver, clients can feel confident and secure while engaging in hobbies and pastimes, such as gardening, taking walks around the neighborhood or participating in senior workout classes.
Beyond the physical benefits, these activities can also provide intellectual stimulation, helping to maintain mental sharpness and prevent cognitive decline. A well-structured life enrichment program can truly be a source of restoration and healing to support their health journeys and improve their mobility.
4. Staying Connected With the Community & Loved Ones
Social isolation is an unfortunate reality for many seniors living at home. Research shows that an older adult without a spouse or partner at home spends around 10 hours of the day alone. However, healthy, meaningful interactions outside the home—whether an organized event or a casual visit at a loved one’s home—are essential to a client’s mobility by motivating them to get out of the house, stay active and maintain a sense of normalcy.
A life enrichment program can help clients overcome the physical barriers that often prevent them from engaging with friends and members of their community. A dedicated caregiver can provide assistance with dressing and transportation to events or social gatherings while also helping to facilitate these opportunities. They lessen the fear of being alone at home and encourage social engagement to help improve a client’s physical and mental health.
5. Promoting Holistic Health
As providers of long-term care, emphasizing holistic health cannot be understated. Physical, mental, emotional and social health are all interconnected, and a positive change in one area can inspire another. By supporting clients in their pursuit of a lifestyle that improves all aspects of their well-being, a life enrichment program can spark a chain reaction of positive events that enhance their overall health—often without the client even realizing
it is happening.
A life enrichment program can complement other care programs to round out a care plan, offering a complete approach to rehabilitation, recovery and everyday supportive care. For those struggling with mobility, it fills in the gaps and supports progress toward a meaningful, enjoyable life at home, even with physical challenges.
A Viable Long-Term Care Solution for the Future
Whether it’s provided for a prolonged period of recovery or for the foreseeable future, life enrichment is often a necessary step of support within the continuum of care for the millions of Americans struggling with mobility. Its comprehensiveness makes it a viable long-term solution, while its flexibility can provide attention where needed and work well with other brand programs.
As we look to the future of our industry, our role in supporting our nation’s growing senior population becomes increasingly important. Many will face significant mobility and everyday challenges that can feel impossible for them to navigate on their own. Fortunately, they don’t have to; life enrichment and companionship services can help them maintain their integrity and independence while helping them lead happier, healthier lives at