What to Do Before, During and After Hospitalization
When a parent is suddenly hospitalized, things happen so quickly that it can quite often leave the caregiver overwhelmed and flustered. Another consideration that must be taken into account is where the elderly parent should go when it’s time to leave the hospital.
When Janet Jones’ mother was hospitalized after a stroke about a year ago, having her mom move in seemed to be the best option. After all, Jones had been a registered nurse for more nearly three decades and works as director of home health care services company based in a major Canadian city. But being in the medical field didn’t totally prepare Jones for the year that was ahead. The experience, she admits, was a ‘real eye-opener’.
Jones’ sister agreed to move to their city for two months to help provide caregiving support and Jones’ husband was also there to help as well. But despite all her experience in the medical field, even Jones herself occasionally succumbed to one of the most common mistakes of caregivers.
The mistake? Not asking for help.
“Even with our own patients and their caregivers, we notice frequently that they don’t ask for help when they need it,” says Bakhshian, “They are trying so hard to care for their loved one, but they seem to feel that they need to take it all on their own shoulders.”
Other recommendations she has for caregivers.
When the senior is hospitalized, visit them during normal business hours
This will give you more of an opportunity to ask questions of the doctors and nurses who are providing the primary care and then help you plan your loved one’s discharge. There are many resources available to you through the hospital and numerous support services/facilities, but they are hard to access if you don’t ask questions of the professionals. From occupational therapists to home care companies, they can help you make informed decisions. If a short rehab stay is necessary, this is the time to discuss it.
Thoroughly investigate home health care services
Ask the doctors if post-hospitalization health care is an option, or even recommended. Home health nurses can provide education about the senior’s condition, explain how to dispense a loved one’s medication and teach about possible side effects or complications to watch out for. “In our experience, it is often the caregiver who needs the most help, not the discharged patient,” explains Bakhshian, “It can be a big change for them; often overwhelming. Home health care services help the caregiver deal with the challenge more effectively.”
Companies such as hers can also act as a ‘care manager’, ensuring that all of the senior’s doctors or specialists are on the same page. They can also provide in-home physical or occupational therapy for the senior. Many times, these services are covered by insurance or extended medical plans. If your loved one has been hospitalized, be sure to consult with a hospital social worker to determine what assistance you and your loved one are entitled to. Ask for recommendations and do some extensive due diligence before choosing a home care services companies.
Go to as many appointments with your loved one as possible.
Keep the lines of communication open and be a strong advocate for your loved one. Stay involved if at all possible. Or you can use a health care services company like Safe Care Home Support, where caregivers can take your loved one to doctor’s appointments and advocate for them. Her company employs RN’s and LPN’s, who can interpret what the professionals say, to ensure that family members and other caregivers know exactly what is going on.
Be certain to give yourself a break
This is critical. You must take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of someone else. And that means taking regular breaks from care giving. Even a few minutes each hour to do what you enjoy – have cup of tea, meditate or pray, have a piece of chocolate – and reward yourself is an excellent habit to get into. Longer breaks when the patient is sleeping is an excellent idea. It is actually a lot like being the mother of a newborn – takes breaks whenever you can to do what is important for you to recharge! And use respite care to give yourself a day long break will allow you to help your love one like you really want to.
Hospital Hints for Caregivers and Their Elderly Parents
Going to the hospital is somewhat like traveling to another country – the sights are relatively unfamiliar and most of the people you encounter often speak a ‘foreign’ language. No matter what the reason for the trip – whether it’s just for a few tests, an overnight visit or an extended stay for medical treatment or major surgery – nearly everyone has concerns about entering the hospital. Learning more about hospitals and the people who work there may help make any senior’s hospital stay much less stressful. The following hints are meant for people whose senior parents plan to enter the hospital by choice rather than for those who go to the hospital because of an emergency. Relatives and friends of patients who are admitted to the hospital also may find this information useful.