Whether a loved one is in the hospital for a planned surgery or an unexpected medical crisis, you might be left feeling helpless and vulnerable. You are fully trusting the trained medical professionals to meet all of your loved one’s needs and to know precisely what to do to help keep them feeling comfortable during their stay in the hospital. But as a family caregiver, you actually have a vital role to play to support a senior in the hospital: as your loved one’s advocate.
Prior to a need arising, it’s an excellent idea to have a plan in place for how you can effectively provide the advocacy and support the person will need. These pointers can help.
How Can I Best Support a Senior in the Hospital?
- Be on the lookout for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly prevalent issue that can arise for several different reasons. In some instances, narcotics and anti-anxiety meds trigger delirium. Another potential cause is lack of sleep caused by the bright lights, noises, and ongoing monitoring through the night. To help, make sure the door is closed whenever possible to minimize noise from the hallway, and ask for the lights to be dimmed as low as possible at night. Visit the person whenever you can to watch for signs and symptoms of delirium. Your presence will provide a familiar face to help ground them while in strange surroundings.
- Offer interesting activities. Create a welcome diversion from the distress of being in the hospital by watching a movie together, staying with them during mealtimes, reading a book aloud, or playing quiet music they enjoy. Keep them updated on family news to help them feel plugged into the outside world. And, it’s really true that laughter can be the best medicine! Find opportunities to share humor together if appropriate and welcomed by the individual.
- Optimize comfort. Make the sterile hospital atmosphere feel a tad bit more like home by bringing in a favorite pillow or blanket, sweater or robe, a book they are reading, and their preferred personal hygiene products: lip balm, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. You may want to bring a family photo or other memento to place on the bedside table. Just be sure to leave anything of value at home.
- Make post-hospitalization arrangements. The right time to make a plan for discharge from the hospital is while the person is still hospitalized – or ideally, even before a planned hospital stay. There are a number of actions to take to ensure the home will be ready for their homecoming. An in-home caregiver should be an integral aspect of an individual’s post-hospitalization plan, to help avoid a rehospitalization and to make sure the person recovers comfortably.
Home With You Senior Care, servicing Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, and the nearby areas, is here to help loved ones before, during, and after a hospitalization, through services such as:
- Grocery shopping to ensure there are plenty of healthy food options in the home
- Cooking meals in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- Picking up prescriptions and providing medication reminders
- Watching for changes in condition and reporting them right away
- Providing assistance during transfers and walking to lessen the possibility of a fall
- And more