If you have a family member or loved one in a hospital or rehab facility, your life needs simplification–immediately! With these simple tips you’ll make the stay easier and maintain control of your emotions better. You’ll also learn to coordinate communications among multiple caregivers and collaborate with medical professionals in an advocacy role for your patient.
This article is part one of a three part series that will help you step into an advocacy role, feel more confident about your role as a caregiver, and communicate effectively with medical professionals. These tips and actions are practical and provide real life advice to help you navigate through the countless tests, doctors, nurses, therapists, medicines and other medical professionals and new terminology. Moving forward, accept that you have a steep learning curve and apply yourself persistently.
Part 1. Compassion and comfort for your patient
Stay with your loved one, as a caregiver advocate, as much as possible and as much as is allowed by hospital policy. It’s almost impossible for patients to become their best advocate.
Understand that being alone in the hospital room can be scary or at least disconcerting. It’s important to provide extra emotional support and encouragement.
Show patience when your loved one is having difficulty understanding what’s happening to them. Patients may be incoherent, forgetful or unable to comprehend simple requests due to fatigue, surgery, medication, or a combination of all.
Hand-feed your patient if necessary. Patients are tired, and their appetite may be affected by medicines so they don’t feel like eating. Caregivers must arrange their schedules around meal time to ensure adequate and proper nutrition.
Realize that patients can get discouraged by the change in their bodies. You’ll want to coach them to perform the activities assigned by the therapists.
Become the cheerleader when your patient becomes discouraged. They may lose strength, balance, or mobility during the illness. It’s important that you remind them that they can rebuild their muscles and movement.
Keep up the positive encouragement without being annoying or bossy. Emotions can run a little high. Your expectations may be too high for the patient—it’s a fine-line between pushing to recover and pushing too much.
Stay tuned for our next article: Tips for communication and collaboration with medical staff and others.
Marie Gibson is an author and speaker who advises caregivers on how family members can become crucial advocates for their hospitalized family member, and who also leads employee training at health care institutions. She is author of The Caregiver’s Journal and Peace of Mind for Caring Hearts and Helping Hands.
Using an organizational tracking tool like The Caregiver’s Journal will provide greater clarity in comforting your patient, communicating and collaborating for their health with the medical professionals and you will have more confidence and control of your own emotions.