As a family caregiver, short-term hospitalization of a loved one can be a difficult situation whether he or she is living in a long-term care facility or at home. As the family caregiver, the change can prove challenging at points, especially as hospitalization normally points to an unstable medical condition or an acute condition. Here are a few pointers for how to negotiate the situation.
The most important issue to keep in mind is that you have most of the information about your loved one`s previous condition; make certain you share it. Let hospital staff know about any physical or cognitive impairments even if the information seems obvious. For example, let staffers know that your loved one is unable to use an emergency call button at times due to arthritis or that he or she has a hard time following directions due to cognitive impairment or even that he or she shouldn`t be given a cup of coffee should they ask for it in the afternoon as they have dementia-related Sundowner`s syndrome. Inform hospital staff in regards to a person`s preferences or dietary considerations. Small things can mean the world when placed in an unfamiliar hospital environment.
A small favor such as asking to keep meals free from red meat for a person who doesn`t like beef is an easy way to ensure your loved one has some creature comforts. Keep notes and pay attention. Hospitals are there to relieve acute medical problems and as such may overlook smaller background issues. However, it is your job to speak up in the event you feel your loved one is receiving improper care.
Try to get as many visitors in to see your loved one as possible. Even short visits can raise a person`s spirits and provide a nice change or shift in a person;s focus. Several Internet-based sites host free personal web pages specifically designed for caregivers so they can easily post information about their loved one who currently is hospitalized or in need of help. These pages allow concerned family members and friends to schedule visits, monitor progress and sign-up to help with any needed tasks. This ensures that a person can have several visitors over the course of a day rather than a bunch all at once.
Discharge is Just the Beginning Keep notes on medications and dosages for your loved one.
If new medications appear on the discharge plan, make certain you understand what they`re for, dosage amounts and possible side effects. Check with the pharmacist to ensure there are no contraindications, especially with drugs already prescribed. Make certain the discharge plan has all prescriptions listed on it. Do not assume previous prescriptions have been replaced or taken off unless you have been told so in absolute terms by a medical professional. If your loved one now needs to move out from his or her home, then a list of possible long-term care facilities that meet your financial and medical, dietary and social requirements needs to be found.
Discharge planners might make referrals, but make certain they are aware of all your specific needs. (And, of course, Gilbert Guide offers information on how to find and assess the care options in your area.) If you have time, visit facilities and rank them according to your needs. Gilbert Guide offers an explanation and handy checklist of issues for both skilled nursing and assisted living. Hospitalization may result in changes to your loved one;s life. Anything that can preserve some sense of continuity will help with the transition. If you have had doctor-prescribed home, health aides before the hospitalization and they were well liked and give proper care, then ask to keep them. If the same holds true for your home care aides you should also voice your opinion on retaining them if they can provide the level of care necessary. Learn as much as you can about your loved one`s condition if it has changed.
The Internet is a helpful resource, but should be tempered with information and recommendations from your loved one`s physician. Make sure you understand all the ways in which you can provide the utmost in care for this new situation. For example, if your loved one requires therapy, find out what the goals of the therapy are and if there are any exercises with which you can assist. Throughout the course of your loved one`s hospitalization, remember that you are their voice. Do not be afraid to speak up and ask questions as they may be unable or unwilling to do so. If you run into any problems you feel you cannot solve, most hospitals have an on-staff patient advocate that will be able to provide help.
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