An optimal return from the hospital means not going back

A hospital trip for a medical emergency may save a life, but do you or the person you care for want to repeat the experience? Probably not. That’s why OFA wants to make an older adult’s return home from the hospital less challenging, to break the pattern of return hospital trips.

The Office for the Aging coordinates with care teams at local hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities and urgent care centers to reduce the risk of return hospital trips.

Regardless of whether your hospital visit was planned or not, these four steps can help improve the likelihood of successful recovery.

1) Measure your risk: Older adults and their caregivers can advocate for themselves simply by asking about the risk for repeat hospital visits. Health care professionals use tools to identify which older adults are most likely to return to an emergency department after leaving the hospital.

2) Have a care plan ready before discharge time: Don’t go home from the hospital without asking health care providers about what kind of plan will meet an older adult’s unique needs as they continue their recovery. The Office for the Aging can be a key part of planning a successful recovery by working with hospital care teams. Since beginning this effort in 2019, more Dutchess older adults have sought out OFA services for just this reason. It’s a trend we expect will continue in 2024.

3) Listen to that wake-up call: In the case of an unplanned hospital visit, a combination of lifestyle factors and undiagnosed ailments may have led to an older adult’s current situation. It’s never too late to quit smoking, improve diet and exercise, and eliminate other substance use to improve your quality of life and reduce repeat hospital trips. OFA’s website ( has plenty of tips available in our “Nutrition Services” and “Health and Wellness” sections to find out more.

4) Get the pharmacist in the mix: Anybody taking multiple medications is at risk of drug interactions that lead to serious side effects, especially as they age. The phenomenon is called “polypharmacy.” To prevent it, a pharmacist can review medications and help align timing and dosage for desired effectiveness. If a change in medications is ordered, OFA can direct you to local resources where you can safely dispose of medications that are no longer needed. There’s a list of local law enforcement agencies that operate safe-disposal facilities at For homebound individuals and their caregivers, Deterra brand drug disposal kits are available while supplies last at OFA Friendship Centers throughout the county. The kits cannot be mailed. Please call a Friendship Center to arrange a suitable pickup time.


Golden Living is prepared by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, Todd N. Tancredi, director. Email him at

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