AlzU Blog

Hospital Discharge Planning for Those with Alzheimer's Disease

If you are a caregiver or family member of someone with AD, you may have experienced a hospital stay and know the importance of hospital discharge planning.  For those who fortunately have not experienced a hospitalization, learning in advance just how vital discharge planning is in helping to expedite the healing process will lend itself to faster healing once your loved one returns home.

What is hospital discharge planning?

Hospital discharge planning is the process of compiling information on exactly what a person needs for a smooth transition from the duration of the hospital stay, through the discharge, and finally to the next level of care.  The next level of care could be a skilled nursing facility, the person’s home or another living environment.  Discharge planning is usually conducted by a team of health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers and physical or respiratory therapists (depending on the medical issues a person experiences during hospitalization).

Components of the discharge plan

  • Assessment of the condition and medical needs
  • Team discussion with the patient and family members
  • Plans and goals for discharge to home or another facility
  • Referral services to recommend home care professionals such as home health nurses
  • Follow up appointments or necessary tests after hospitalization
  • Patient and family education for home treatments and medications
  • Arrangement for home health equipment such as wheelchairs or oxygen

When does discharge planning start?

Effective discharge planning begins immediately after admission and continues throughout the duration of the hospital stay up to the day of discharge.

Significance of discharge planning


The importance of good discharge planning cannot be stressed.  Planning for discharge successfully results in lower incidence of recidivism (return visits to the hospital for the same illness), and speedier recovery after patients return home. 

Paying close attention to even the simplest home instruction is vital to your loved one’s speedy recovery after hospitalization.  For example, be sure to keep emergency contact information accessible to access professional advice quickly and easily from home when needed.  Keep in mind that medication errors are very common after hospital discharge, so pay close attention to instructions on proper medication administration at home.  Get educated on common side effects of medications your loved one takes so that you can identify potentially dangerous signs and symptoms and seek medical attention early on, if needed.

In today’s world of hospitalization, patients are commonly sent home sooner and in many cases with a higher severity of illness than in the past.  This makes it even more vital for those responsible for the care of individuals being discharged to listen closely to hospital discharge instructions before leaving the facility. 

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