Woman talking with doctor to advocate for an older loved one during a hospital stay

Whether a loved one is hospitalized for a planned procedure or an unplanned medical crisis, you may be left feeling vulnerable and helpless. You’re trusting the trained medical experts to fulfill all your loved one’s needs and to know exactly what to do to help keep them feeling comfortable during their hospital stay. However, as a family caregiver, you actually have a vital role to play: as your loved one’s advocate.

Prior to a need arising, it is a good idea to have a strategy set up for how to best provide the support and advocacy the person will need. These suggestions can help.

How Can You Advocate for Older Loved Ones in the Hospital?

  • Monitor for hospital-induced delirium. This is a surprisingly common condition that can occur for many different reasons. In certain instances, narcotics and anti-anxiety meds cause delirium. Another potential cause is lack of sleep due to the ongoing monitoring, bright lights, and noises throughout the night. To help, make sure the door is closed whenever possible to limit noise from the hallway and ask for the lights to be turned down as low as possible at nighttime. Visit the individual often to check for signs and symptoms of delirium. Your presence will provide a familiar face to help ground them while in strange surroundings.
  • Provide engaging activities. Create a welcome distraction from the stress of being hospitalized by watching a movie together, staying with them during mealtimes, reading a book aloud, or playing quiet music they enjoy. Make sure they are updated on family news to help them feel connected to the outside world. And, it’s really true that laughter is often the best medicine! Find opportunities to share a laugh together if appropriate and welcomed by the person.
  • Maximize comfort. Make the sterile hospital environment feel a bit more like home by bringing in a favorite pillow or blanket, sweater or robe, a book they’ve been reading, and their preferred personal hygiene products: lip balm, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. You might also wish to bring a family photo or other memento to put on the bedside table. Just be sure to leave anything of value at home.
  • Make arrangements for when the person leaves the hospital. The optimum time to prepare for discharge from the hospital is while the person is still hospitalized – or ideally, even before a planned hospital stay. There are a number of actions to take to be sure the home will be prepared for their return. An in-home caregiver should be a key element of a loved one’s post-hospitalization strategy, to help prevent a rehospitalization and to make sure the person recovers comfortably.

Compassionate Nursing Services, a home care provider in Town and Country, Creve Coeur, Clayton, Des Peres, Oakville, and the nearby areas, is here to help loved ones before, during, and after a hospitalization, through services such as:

  • Grocery shopping to ensure there are plenty of healthy foods in the home
  • Preparing meals in accordance with any prescribed nutritional guidelines
  • Providing medication reminders and picking up prescriptions
  • Watching for changes in condition and reporting them right away
  • Providing assistance during transfers and walking to decrease the risk of a fall
  • And more

Call us at 314-432-4312 for more resources on how to best advocate for older loved ones during and after a hospital stay and to learn about our comprehensive home care services.