Whether a loved one is hospitalized for a planned procedure or an unexpected medical emergency, you might be left feeling helpless and vulnerable. You are fully trusting the trained medical experts to meet all of your loved one’s needs during their stay in the hospital and to know just what to do to help keep them feeling comfortable. Nevertheless, as a family caregiver, you actually have a huge role to play: as the person’s advocate.
Before the need arises, it’s an excellent idea to have a plan established for how you can best advocate during a hospitalization and offer the support the person will require. These tips can help.
How to Advocate for an Older Loved One During a Hospitalization
- Be on the lookout for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly common problem that can develop for several different reasons. In some instances, treatments such as narcotics and anti-anxiety meds trigger delirium. Another potential culprit is sleep deficiency caused by the noises, ongoing monitoring, and bright lights through the night. To help, keep the door closed whenever possible to limit hallway noise and ask for the lights to be dimmed as low as possible during the night. Visit the older adult whenever you can to check for warning signs of delirium. Your presence will provide them with a familiar face to help ground them while in unfamiliar surroundings.
- Provide engaging activities. Create a welcome distraction from the stress of being in the hospital 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 connected to the rest of the world. And, it’s really true that laughter is sometimes the best medicine! Find chances to share a laugh together if appropriate and welcomed by the person.
- Improve comfort. Make the sterile hospital setting feel more like home by bringing in a favorite blanket or pillow, a robe or sweater, a novel they have been reading, and their favored personal hygiene products: shampoo, soap, lotion, lip balm, etc. You may even wish 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 preparations. The optimum time to make a plan for discharge from the hospital is while the person is still hospitalized – or preferably, even before a planned hospital stay. There are certain actions to take to be sure the home will be prepared for their return. An in-home care provider should be a key aspect of an individual’s post-hospitalization plan, to help protect against a rehospitalization and to make sure the person recovers comfortably.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care, serving Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, Mission Hills, Kansas City, MO and the surrounding areas, is here to support older adults before, during, and after a hospitalization, through services such as:
- Trips to the grocery store to ensure there are plenty of healthy foods in the home
- Cooking meals according to any prescribed dietary plan
- Providing medication reminders and picking up prescriptions
- Watching for changes in condition and reporting them immediately
- Providing assistance during transfers and walking to reduce the risk of a fall
- And much more