Age-Related Differences in Perception of Quality of Discharge Teaching and Readiness for Hospital Discharge

Some 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of a stay. Inadequate discharge preparation is among the contributing factors. This study assessed the quality of nurse discharge teaching and patient readiness for discharge from the perspective of four age groups of older adults (55–64; 65–74; 75–84 and 85 years of age and older) compared with younger adults.

For patients less than 85 years old, the perceived quality of delivery of discharge teaching and the skills of the nurses in delivering effective teaching was more highly associated with how ready the person felt physically; how knowledgeable they were; how much they felt they could cope with going home; and how much support they expected to have at home rather than the actual content received from the teaching. The oldest patients, however, did not share this experience and reported receiving less informational content than others.

Older adults may require different teaching methods and more time to understand instructions than younger adults, possibly due to mild cognitive issues and short-term memory difficulties. Such age-related differences in perceived quality of discharge teaching, and readiness for discharge, highlight the need to assess patients before they leave the hospital.