Patient Education and Discharge Planning to Prevent Functional Decline in the Older Adult

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Abstract

The population in the United States is aging, and persons older than 65 years account for over 50% of healthcare costs. Preventing functional decline in older adults through patient education and optimal discharge planning is one way we can succeed in decreasing healthcare costs, readmissions, and mortality in this population. The aim of this article is to present viable healthcare policy options to prevent or minimize functional decline in the older adult, regardless of what health-related facility the person enters. Policy objectives include mandating functional screening tests on all persons 65 years and older, addressing functional status as a required element of discharge planning, tracking and reporting patient outcomes, and utilizing advanced practice nurses to the full extent of their education and scope of practice. Three policy options are presented, analyzed, and compared. The summary concludes with a recommended policy option.

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