Hospital stays are an unfortunate aspect of getting older. Many times, those stays are unexpected, such as those resulting from an injury incurred during a fall. These are the times when a senior caregiver really needs to step up and take charge understanding and coordinating care while in the hospital and preparing for the hospital discharge.
John Boden, founder of The Life Ledger, an online geriatric care management system, discusses the caregiver’s role when their elder is admitted to the hospital.
I recently had a minor problem, now resolved, that required a hospital admission via the ER. The experience was a rude awaking. I have lots of experience with handling the various aspects of a hospitalization, yet I found my own stay very challenging and was reminded that an elder would be confused about what was happening.
When an elder in your life goes to the hospital, you need to be ready to help. Being on site is difficult and a huge intrusion into your own life, but it is very important in helping to get the best care. Scheduling of tests, doctor’s visits, therapy, ordering meals etc., is done at the staff’s convenience because of the view that the patient is always available and ready for them. In fact it may seem that just when you have stepped out to go to the cafeteria, the doctor will show up.
So now that you have dropped everything to come to the rescue and are filling your caregiver role, what should you do? Bring a notebook so you can keep your own record of the names of the various doctors, nurses, aides and therapists, what the therapy procedures are to be, and what tests have been taken and what the results are. Make note of what medications were administered. When you have this information you can help to see that there is proper coordination among the many different people providing care as the shifts change and the doctor’s associates show up.
After you have survived the stay, you will meet the challenges of the discharge. I suggest you start planning for discharge as soon as possible. If rehabilitation or homemaker assistance will be needed, you can investigate what facilities or agencies are available and which one you prefer. You will need to get the medication list and be sure there are no omissions or conflicts and see that both the new medications as well as those that were part of the past regime will be available as soon as they are needed. Therapy, diet, follow-up appointments and much more will also be part of the discharge orders. The main goal to keep in mind for any hospital admission is getting out as soon as possible with no new problems such as infections.
Nursing homes have become an extension of hospital care for seniors, providing rehabilitation services, ongoing care for age-related illnesses and hospice care. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days in a nursing home, which means many seniors will transfer to a nursing home after a hospital stay. You can research Daily Prices of Nursing Homes Nationwide and Ratings on Most Important Criteria with Caregiverlist’s easy-to-use Nursing Home Star Rating tool.