As our parents age, stays at the hospital become longer and more frequent. It’s up to us, as visitors and family, to make sure that their stay is as comfortable as possible; until they feel well enough to return home.
However, overwhelming as it can be, hospitals are usually frightening for many. We are scared, confused and worried, but at the same time excited and happy to see our loved ones. This flood of emotions can baffle us and make us forget vital things to bring and essential questions to ask. That’s why you must be mentally and physically prepared before you enter the hospital.
1. Be an advocate for your parent
If your parent is staying at geriatric care, also known as care for the elderly, their mobility is usually limited. If you want to get necessary information about how your loved one is doing, you’ll have to be an advocate for them. This includes talking to the doctors, nurses and filling out the necessary forms for hospital inpatients.
Walking into the room full of doctors and nurses is scary by itself. Not knowing who is the right person to seek for is, is even worse. While your parent’s hospital stay lasts, you’ll quickly need to learn who’s in charge and who knows the needed information. Ask for the doctor if you need to know about the illness or the condition of the patient. On the other hand, if you want to know how your family member is doing mentally and physically, you should ask the nurse.
2. Make them feel comfortable
Hospital stays are never fun and comfortable. Unknown people, space and scenarios can make your parents feel overwhelmed with emotions. It’s also common for patients to miss home and want to go back as soon as possible. Even though you can’t bring them home just yet, you can bring something from home to make them feel more convenient.
Before you move their entire bedroom into the hospital room, make sure that hospitals allow personal items within premises. If they do, bring their beddings and pillow for cosiness. You can also bring them a family photograph or something from their house that reminds them of home. That’s how you’ll make their room homier and ease their stay.
3. Be conscious of emotions
Let’s face it, hospitals are scary and make us anxious without having our loved ones as inpatients. Thinking about their condition and the reason why they are staying doesn’t help the case either. It probably makes you emotional and stressed, which is okay. However, when you’re in the room with your parent, be conscious about how you manage your emotions.
The elderly are sometimes cranky and hard to deal with. They are stubborn and avoid cooperation. So, instead of impulsively reacting to their negativity, try to detach from your emotions. Outbursts of emotions won’t lead anywhere. Put on your “I’m strong but worried face” and try to reason your parent into listening to what the doctors and nurses have to say.
4. Appreciate the nurses
Big or small, hospitals are usually packed with patients with nowhere near enough staff to take care of everyone. This shortage of staff may cause healthcare workers to overwork themselves on already long 12-hour shifts. If they’ve always been kind to you and your dear one, make sure to show the appreciation for the job they do.
You shouldn’t hold long speeches or buy expensive gifts for the nurses. That’s not appropriate. On the other hand, you can show gratitude by making them DIY thank you cards. “Thank you, cards,” appropriately show your appreciation, and they can make the nurses’ day much better. After all, they help your loved one through the day.
5. Reconsider the gifts for your patient
Everybody loves receiving gifts. It’s a marvellous way to cheer up your loved one while staying in the hospital. In films, it’s quite common to see balloons and flowers in the patient’s room. However, you might want to think twice before you burst into the room with a handful of “feel-better soon” balloons and a huge bouquet.
Even though they are lovely and exciting, are they indeed necessary? If you want to surprise your loved one with a gift, try coming up with a more creative and convenient solution. Consider getting them original gift hampers that will make their day and please their taste buds. Whether they have a sweet tooth or are more of a savoury type of the person, gift hampers include a wide range of different products for everyone’s likings. These products will surely make your loved one feel extra special.
6. Pass some time with them
Hospital days may seem long and dull if you’ve got nothing to do. The elderly patients usually have limited mobility; therefore, they can’t move and walk around the corridors to pass their time. Your visit may be the only exciting thing during the day. Even though they get tired easily and sleep a lot and often, that doesn’t mean that your visits should be short. Help them pass some time.
For people with limited mobility, there is nothing much you can do. However, even the simple, meaningful conversation and a warm smile can mean the world to them. If you have enough time, you can encourage some activities for the elderly appropriate for the hospital setting. It can cheer your parent up and make him or her feel loved and cared for.
Knowing that your parent must stay at the hospital may come as a shock. However, with these tips, you will be fully prepared for their stay. Knowing who to talk to regarding the necessary information, and what to bring to your parent makes the visits much easier and stress-free. Be patient and strong while your loved one is in the hospital. Visit them frequently and try to make their stay as comfortable as possible before they’re ready to come home.