Whether a loved one is hospitalized for a planned procedure or an unexpected medical crisis, you might be left feeling helpless and vulnerable. You’re fully trusting the trained medical experts to fulfill all your loved one’s needs during their hospital stay and to know exactly what to do to keep them feeling comfortable. However, as a family caregiver, you do have an important role to play: as an advocate for your loved one.
Before the need arises, it’s a good idea to have a strategy in place for how to best provide the advocacy and support the person will require. These guidelines can help.
How to Advocate for a Loved One in the Hospital
- Watch for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly common problem that can arise for many different reasons. In certain instances, anti-anxiety medications and narcotics trigger delirium. Another possible cause is lack of sleep due to the bright lights, noises, and ongoing monitoring during 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 turned down as low as possible at night. Visit the individual regularly to check for signs and symptoms of delirium. Your presence will provide them with a familiar face to help ground them while in an unfamiliar environment.
- Offer engaging activities. Create a welcome diversion from the distress of being hospitalized by playing quiet music they enjoy, reading a book aloud, staying with them at mealtime, or watching a movie together. Make sure they are updated on family news to help them feel plugged into the outside world. And, it’s really true that laughter is sometimes the best medicine! Find opportunities to share humor together if appropriate and welcomed by the person.
- Enhance comfort. Make the sterile hospital setting feel a bit more like home by bringing in a favorite pillow or blanket, sweater or robe, a book they have been reading, and their preferred personal hygiene products: shampoo, soap, lotion, lip balm, etc. You may want to bring a family photo or other memento to set up on the nightstand. Just be sure to leave anything of value at home.
- Make post-hospitalization arrangements. The right time to prepare 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 vital part of a loved one’s post-hospitalization plan, in order to protect against a rehospitalization and to make sure the person recovers comfortably.
Morning Glory Home Care, serving Edwardsville, Alton, Collinsville, Granite City, Belleville, and the surrounding areas, 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 according to any prescribed nutritional plan
- Providing medication reminders and picking up prescriptions
- Watching for changes in condition and reporting them right away
- Providing assistance during transfers and walking to lessen the risk of a fall
- And much more