Questions for Caregivers and Preparation for the Return Home
Hospitalization can be stressful to both the caregiver and the caree. The fact that your loved one was sick enough to require hospitalization is upsetting. Dealing with doctors, nurses and uncertainty is stressful. Not knowing what to expect when you get home is overwhelming.
If your loved one needs to be hospitalized, you will need to step in as his or her advocate. Even if they are able to speak for themselves, the situation can be overwhelming and they can have a difficult time processing the information. There are steps you and your loved one should take before a hospital discharge to ensure a smoother recovery.
Questions to Ask During Hospitalization
- Is my loved one really ready to go home? Sometimes, the timeline for discharge is based on insurance, not on the well-being of the patient. If you are concerned that your loved one isn’t ready, speak up. Doctors can speak to insurance companies and extend the hospital stay if they feel it’s necessary.
- If you are dealing with a new condition or health concern, ask where you can turn for more information. You may need to join a support group or do a bit more research at home.
- Are there any red flags I should watch for at home? You and your loved one need to be clear about any symptoms that can indicate a bigger problem.
- What should they take for pain (nausea, etc)? How will it react with other medications.
- What is the recovery process? Will my loved one require rehabilitation? Of note, doctors sometimes aren’t aware of how painful a procedure or recovery is since they don’t actually experience it themselves. In addition to asking about the recovery process or pain, ask how long your loved one should expect to be in pain/require rehabilitation. ]
- Do you offer home assessments to determine what my loved one needs at home?
- Do we need special equipment at home – hospital bed, walker, shower chair, wound care supplies?
- If you will be changing dressings or moving a non-ambulatory loved one, be sure to ask for a demonstration (or several demonstrations) to ensure you are comfortable with the procedure.
- What kind of supervision will my loved one need at home?
- If any medications were stopped during hospitalization, ask when they can restart medication and if there are concerns for interaction with other medication.
Concerns to Express During Hospitalization
- If you are concerned about your loved one’s ability to care for themselves when they return home, bring it up to the hospital staff. Most hospitals have social workers on staff who can help set them up with in home care, physical therapy or meal delivery.
- Do you have concerns about medication or dietary requirements? This is the time to bring them up. Don’t wait until after you are discharged from the hospital.
- Confirm that hospital records are being forwarded to your loved one’s regular doctors and ask who you should follow up with if you have concerns.
- If your loved one was diagnosed with a new condition or is dealing with a new health challenge, get information on the condition. As for recommendations for specialists and if there are places you can turn. It may be difficult to do your research while you’re in the hospital so ask as many questions as you can until you can do your research at home.
The more information you have ahead of time, the better off you’ll both be. Returning home after hospitalization can be scary and overwhelming. Going from having round-the-clock nurse care to untrained family members can be scary. The more prepared you are, the more in-control you will feel.
Do not be embarrassed to ask questions, especially if you’ll be taking on new tasks at home. Also, do not feel like you are putting your doctor out by asking questions. A good doctor will answer your questions thoroughly. If your doctor doesn’t want to answer your questions, keep asking. He or she is required to address your concerns.