Whether a loved one is hospitalized for a planned surgery or an unplanned medical emergency, you may be left feeling vulnerable and helpless. You are fully trusting the trained medical professionals to meet all of your loved one’s needs during their stay in the hospital and to know precisely what to do to keep them feeling comfortable. Yet as a family caregiver, you do have an important role to play: as the senior’s advocate.
Prior to a need arising, it is a smart idea to have a plan in place for how to effectively serve as a senior advocate and support your loved one. These tips can help.
How Can You Advocate for a Hospitalized Loved One?
- Watch for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly common condition that can develop for a number of different reasons. In certain instances, treatments including anti-anxiety medications and narcotics induce delirium. Another possible cause is insufficient sleep from the bright lights, noises, and ongoing monitoring throughout the night. To help, make sure the door is closed as much as possible to reduce noise from the hallway and ask for the lights to be dimmed as low as possible during the night. Visit the person whenever you can to check for signs of delirium. Your presence will provide a familiar face to help ground them while in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Provide interesting activities. Create a welcome distraction from the stress of being hospitalized by playing quiet music they enjoy, reading a book aloud, staying with them at mealtime, or watching a movie together. Keep them updated on family news to help them feel plugged into the outside world. And, it’s really true that laughter is often the best medicine! Find opportunities to share a laugh together if appropriate and welcomed by the person.
- Optimize comfort. Make the sterile hospital environment feel a bit more like home by bringing in a favorite blanket or pillow, a robe or sweater, a novel they have been reading, and their preferred personal hygiene products: lip balm, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. You might also want to bring a family photo or other memento to put on the nightstand. Be sure to leave anything of value at home.
- Make post-hospitalization preparations. The best time to plan for discharge from the hospital is while the person is still hospitalized – or preferably, even before a planned hospital stay. There are steps you can take to be sure the home will be ready for their homecoming. An in-home caregiver should be a key part of a loved one’s post-hospitalization strategy, to help avoid a rehospitalization and to ensure that the person recovers comfortably.
Live Free Home Health Care, serving New Hampton, Tilton, Epsom, Bow, Concord, and the surrounding communities, is here to help individuals before, during, and after a hospitalization, through services such as:
- Grocery shopping to ensure there are plenty of healthy foods in the home
- Making meals in accordance with any prescribed dietary plan
- Picking up prescriptions and providing medication reminders
- Watching for changes in condition and reporting them immediately
- Providing support during transfers and walking to reduce the possibility of a fall
- And more