Taking care of your aging parent is never easy – especially when he or she needs extra help recovering from a hospital stay. An important part of your loved ones’ recovery is making sure they get the proper care once they return home.
Visiting the hospital is a difficult time for both you and your parent. Whether your relative is in the hospital for a few days or for an extended stay, it will be easier if you know what to expect when they are ready to leave.
Below is a list of tips to help prepare you for your aging parents’ recovery:
1. Learn About Your Loved Ones’ Condition
- Find out as much as you can about their medical condition, treatment, and expected level of functioning after complete recovery.
- Ask about any signs or symptoms that you should watch out for and find out what you should do in case problems arise.
- Learn about your parent’s ability to do everyday activities such as climbing stairs, preparing meals, going to the bathroom, and other important daily tasks.
2. Plan Ahead for Their Return Home
- Make sure their home is set up to help with any physical limitations they may have, such as installing grab bars in the shower or lowering shelves in closets for wheelchair bound family members.
- Before leaving the hospital, write down the names and telephone numbers of health care professionals you can contact if you or your senior parent has any questions or their condition worsens.
- Arrange for an in-hospital assessment to determine Medicare or insurance eligibility for elder care services, such as visiting nurses or home care aides.
3. Get to Know Your Parent’s Medication
- Ask for a complete list of medications he or she will be taking at home and make sure you understand the directions for taking the medicine.
- Determine if there are any foods or beverages that should be avoided when taking medicines.
- Find out about the medication’s side effects, such as causing dizziness or an upset stomach, and what should be done if your parent experiences symptoms.
4. Find Out About Follow-Up Care
- If your loved one needs special equipment, such as a wheelchair or walker, make sure you and your loved one know how to use it, where to get it, and if it’s covered by insurance, Medicare, or other health plan.
- Ask for directions about physical exercises your parent may need to perform. Have a doctor, nurse, or physical therapist provide a written “plan of care.”
- Find out about any follow up doctors visits or tests that need to be scheduled and make sure transportation for your parents is in place.
As a reminder, be realistic about your caregiving abilities and remember to take care of yourself during your parent’s recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help – from other family members, a senior care agency, or local support groups.
There are also many helpful web sites and organizations available for family members who are taking care of their loved ones’ after a hospital stay. These include:
- Caring News, www.caringnews.com
- Administration on Aging, www.aoa.gov/caregivers
- National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org
- AARP, www.aarp.org/families/caregiving
- Right at Home, www.rightathome.net
About Right at Home
Right at Home offers in-home supportive care and personal care assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Right at Home directly employs all direct care provider staff, is bonded and insured, and carefully pre-screens all caregivers prior to their entering a client’s home. All ongoing care is monitored and supervised by local independent owners. Select offices provide skilled nursing home care as well. Right at Home’s national office is based in Omaha, NE with offices throughout the United States, including Portland. For more information on Right at Home, visit the company’s website.
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