Talk about frustrating. All you want to do is get up and walk around like a normal person. But when you’re in the hospital, it’s never that simple.
Perhaps you’re hooked up to enough machines and tubes that you feel like you’re tied to your bed. And you can’t move without help.
Or maybe you’re lucky enough to be equipment-free, but the hospital staff STILL insists you shouldn’t try to move around on your own because of a risk for falls
Either way, the result is the same. You end up stuck in a hospital bed going stir crazy.
But it turns out that isn’t even the worst of it. Because the REAL reason you end up trapped in bed likely doesn’t have a thing to do with your health or your risks.
Well, not directly anyway. Instead, it has everything to do with money.
The REAL reason you’re stuck in bed
First, there are staffing issues. You need a hand getting up, but there’s no one to help you because hospitals are often working with skeleton crews to save cash.
And second, if you DO fall while under the hospital’s care, it could have a direct impact on their bottom line.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare can penalize hospitals that have higher numbers of patient injuries including falls. Plus, patients, or their families, could choose to sue on top of that.
In other words, hospitals have a couple of BIG reasons to KEEP you in that bed. And nearly ZERO incentive to help get back on your feet.
But according to a disturbing new report staying stuck in bed can have some devastating and lasting consequences. IN fact, it could send your risk for falls soaring. And getting back into action as quickly as possible is vital to your recovery.
In just a few moments, I’ll share a couple of tips that could help you get up and moving while still in the hospital. But first, let’s take a quick look at those consequences if you don’t.
INSIST on getting back on your feet FAST
Being kept in bed isn’t just driving you batty.
It could SLOW your recovery. INCREASE your risk of readmission. And lead to a rapid DECLINE in health even after you’ve been released.
Now to be clear, falls ARE dangerous. In fact, they’re a leading cause of disability and death in seniors.
And if you’ve had a serious health scare, your caregivers may figure you should limit your movement for a while rather than tempt fate.
But it turns out that kind of old-fashioned thinking is EXACTLY wrong.
Seniors who were healthy and able to walk before a hospital visit end up in bed 83 percent of their time during their stay, according to the new report from the Washington Post and Kaiser Health.
And all that downtime could have dramatic repercussions. It could make you weaker… cause muscles to atrophy… and leave you feeling disoriented and unsteady on your feet.
In other words, keeping you in bed to protect you from falls could actually CAUSE one.
How to help ward of hospital-linked falls
But there are a couple of things you can reduce those risks… including the risk for falls. And knowing them BEFORE you go into the hospital can help ensure you have a smooth recovery when you do.
First, insist on being allowed to get up as soon and as often as possible.
If they’re short-staffed (and, let’s face it, hospitals are ALWAYS short-staffed), request permission to walk up and down the hall with the help of a reliable friend or family member.
And second, ask about in-hospital rehab as soon as you get settled into your room. Many hospitals have programs designed to help people get up and moving and to reduce the risk of falls. But you may not get into one unless you ask.
The good news is it doesn’t take much to make a difference. One study found that seniors who walk just 275 steps per day during their stay have MUCH lower rates of readmission to the hospital later.