Having a relative/friend in the hospital can be extremely stressful for a variety of reasons. Aside from stressing about your loved one’s condition, additional stressors like answering questions related to his/her medical insurance and medication and/or producing legal documents can quickly make an overwhelming situation seem impossible to manage. In order to make the situation seem manageable it is important to know what steps/actions you can take before a crisis arises. Below are a few recommendations to consider:
1) Create a Folder – important documents like a Health care proxy, Power of attorney, a list of medications, health insurance, and other pertinent information should all be kept in one place as, at one point or another, a health care professional may ask for them. Having a folder, file or place you can turn to easily to get the documents can save you a lot of time and hassle from trying to remember where you put them and from having to sort through a mound of unrelated documents. As is the case for many people, you usually can’t find something until you are not looking for it.
2) Prepare a Hospital Bag – should your loved one be admitted into a hospital, he/she may feel more comfortable and less anxious if they have some of their own belongings. Personal items like a nightgown/pajama's, eyeglasses, dentures, reading materials, etc., can help reduce any anxiety your loved one may be experiencing as a result of being in a different place, wearing different clothes, and sleeping in a different bed. You should also include some items for yourself like a cellphone charger, quarters for the vending machines, reading materials and snacks.
3) Delegate Responsibility - if you are the primary caregiver, chances are you will have to keep various family and friends updated on your loved one's condition and progress. Appointing someone else who can do this can be a great relief, both from a time and stress perspective. You may also want to consider delegating other tasks you are generally responsible for like cooking, cleaning, going to the Pharmacy, etc. One less thing for you to do can help you focus more attention on your relative and yourself.
Having a loved one in the hospital is no "walk in the park," especially if it is an unexpected occurrence and your loved one's condition is critical. Preparing beforehand can help minimize the stress you experience. Do you have any other suggestions or tips you would like to share regarding a loved one’s hospitalization? Please do so below…
Christine M. Valentin
As a licensed clinical social worker, I help individuals caring for a loved one reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This blog is meant to share with you, many of the suggestions I recommend to many family caregivers. Sign up to receive them directly.