Far too many of us say no to help when we’re discharged from the hospital or rehab, even though studies have shown that too often we end up even worse off when we refuse home health care. Why do we make these choices?
• The situation isn’t correctly explained to us. Worse is if the hospital doesn’t understand the Medicare guidelines and doesn’t offer us home health care. There’s a difference between “home care” and “home health care.” One involves skilled care
and the other personal care. If we’re on Medicare and have functional limitations, Medicare will pay for home health care services.
• We don’t know who is paying for it.
• Discharge information is confusing, especially if it involves new medications.
• We don’t want strangers in our homes. (Or we’ll agree to it while we’re still in the hospital, just to get them to leave us alone, but once care workers show up, we won’t let them in.)
• We don’t think we need help or that relatives will help us.
• We had a negative experience in the past with home health care.
What happens if we refuse care?
A fair percentage of us will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 to 60 days. We might be in worse shape than the first time we went in, especially if we don’t take the medications correctly or we end up with an infection.
Be smart. If you’re being discharged from the hospital or rehab, ask whether you’re getting a “nurse visit” within 24 hours. If you get a blank look, start asking more questions.
At the same time, if you’re told you will get home health care and you don’t like it, accept the situation at least for a few weeks. Your health depends on it.
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