A few days stay in the hospital can be stressful for the patient and their caregiver. As the caregiver, your focus is on your loved one’s medical treatment and as the patient, the different environment may increase their depression and loneliness. Although the hospital stay is stressful, sometimes the return home can be even more stressful. If your loved one was recently discharged from the hospital you both may find it difficult to adjust when returning home, so here are a few tips to help seniors and caregivers’ transition after a hospital stay.
It’s common for medications to change during hospitalization, so if your senior loved one’s medications have changed, it’s important to review all changes and adjust accordingly. For instance, if their pill organizer was prepared before they went to the hospital, it’s important to check them for any changes; remove meds they no longer use and add new medications. Be sure to encourage the senior to let you know if they experience any side effects from the new medications you can call their doctor. Along with new medications, seniors may need home aids to help with safety and comfort. Review the discharge instructions to check for any recommendations, such as hospital bed, bedside toilet or walker and be sure the items have been ordered and verify delivery date.
Sometimes it’s just too difficult for the senior and their caregiver to transition home after a hospitalization without help. Seniors may return home needing more assistance than just the caregiver can provide; hiring a home health care agency may be an option. This is especially important if your senior loved one has returned home with diabetic changes or bandages that need changed regularly. If home health care is used, be sure to discuss this with your loved one and let them know that there will be someone new coming to their house and the days and times they will be there. Keep in mind that home health care can be beneficial for other needs besides medical; they can also help with bathing, dressing and medication reminders.
Hospital stays can be anything but restful, especially for seniors, so it’s important to encourage frequent periods of rest when they return home. It may take a night or two before they fall back into their regular nightly routine, so encouraging naps during the day will help to reduce the risk of exhaustion, which may increase the risk of illness. While seniors are napping, caregivers should also take a break to help them catch up on things they have gotten behind on while their loved one was in the hospital.
Prepare Favorite Meals
Hospital food is considered nutritious, but it isn’t always appealing to a senior’s taste buds. Before your loved one returns home, try to stock up on their favorite foods. Tempting your loved one with their favorites when they arrive home will help them get back on a healthy eating schedule and it’s a perfect opportunity to help put back on any weight they may have lost while hospitalized. Be sure to encourage a lot of water as well to prevent dehydration.
Considerations for Senior’s with Alzheimer’s
If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, transitioning home after a hospitalization can be extremely overwhelming and scary. Changes in their surroundings and their routine can be difficult. It will take time for them to get acclimated, so remember to take things slowly. Sometimes, just small routine changes are necessary to avoid stress. For instance, upon arriving home, instead of going directly to their bedroom, consider sitting in the living room and talking for an hour or two. Remember to introduce favorite items as well, such as a doll or pillow: those constant companions prior to their hospitalization. Patience is the key and if you become overwhelmed or the senior is struggling to acclimate after several days contact their physician for advice.
If you need assistance with your senior loved one following a hospitalization, contact Meridian Care Services, we’ll be happy to help.