7 Steps To Prepare For Coming Home From The Hospital

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Caregivers: Make the transition from hospital to home easier

Coming home from the hospital or other care setting after an illness or surgery can be worrisome for both patients and the friends and family members who care for them.

Planning ahead can make the process much easier. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has advice that is useful to the millions of Americans who are actively involved in caregiving. Through its caregiver initiative, Ask Medicare, CMS recommends the following steps to prepare for a transition:

  • Plan ahead: You can – and should – start thinking about the discharge process well in advance, even as early as at the time of admission. CMS has a helpful checklist of key points in its “Planning for Your Discharge” guide, available at the “Medicare Basics” link on the home page of the Ask Medicare website at www.medicare.gov/caregivers. This checklist will help you prepare for the next steps in care.
  • Get ready for new responsibilities: Talk to hospital staff about what you will need to do at home, who will show you how to properly carry out any new tasks you will be taking on, such as administering medication, using medical equipment, changing bandages or giving shots.
  • Make needed changes to your home: You might need to rearrange your home to have room for items such as a hospital bed, walker or a wheelchair. You might need to consider installing a ramp in place of stairs – be sure to ask the hospital staff what will be needed. You should also remove area rugs and other items that may cause falls and group electrical cords together with ties or clips to keep them clear of high-traffic areas.
  • Prepare for extra costs: The person you are caring for may need new medical services or medicines after coming home. Medicare may cover some of these costs, but not all.  You can learn about services and care that are covered by Medicare at the “Help With Billing” and “Is It Covered?” links at the Ask Medicare home page.
  • Keep a list of key contacts: Put contact information for doctors, pharmacists, home care agency staff and others involved in the care process where you can easily find them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help: If you’re overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask a friend or family member to lend a hand. If paid home health services are needed, you can learn more about home health services in the “Medicare and Home Health Care” booklet, which is also accessible at the Ask Medicare home page.
  • Have a medical alert button: This is a time when seniors need access to help immediately, weather from a fall or reaction to medication.   A medical alert system is an affordable way to help them remain independent, especially during a transition from the hospital to back home.

It’s also important to keep a file of resources on hand and to bookmark useful web sites, including Ask Medicare, the United Hospital Fund’s “Next Step in Care” initiative at www.nextstepincare.org and AARP’s caregiving site at www.aarp.org/caregivers. More information can be accessed through www.healthcare.gov, a new web portal offered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

– Article Courtesy of ARAcontent

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron Lau August 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

When my mother-in-law had surgery on her knee last year she stayed at our home for a couple weeks. It was a challenging but worthwhile as my wife and I learned being her caregivers. The thing that helped us the most was keeping in touch with the hospital and doctor and asking questions about anything even if it felt like the questions was simple or just dumb. We had to make a few changes to our home to allow a wheelchair to move around easier, but I can tell you that it was worth it.

Hal August 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm

This is something my wife and I have talked about more recently as my parents get up there in age. I don’t like to think as my parents as “Seniors” and ourselves as “caregivers”, but that is how it could be in the near future. For this such reason we have started to think of how we can make our upstairs den into a bedroom, as well as make the house more accessible. I appreciate this checklist of things we can do help prepare us for when our parents need our help.

Richard August 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm

As a “Senior”, I agree 100% with this post and comments. I will admit my health has been less than stellar in the past 10 years, and I have had to move into my daughters home where she has taken over as my caregiver. This transition was just as hard for me as it was for her. My daughter has done a fantastic job of helping me have a much better living experience and I am forever grateful to her.

Amy August 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I came home from the hospital a couple of years ago after knee surgery and the transition was difficult. I had to have my furniture moved around so I could get around as well as rethinking and laying out my bathroom and kitchen. I also had to have number of medical personal close by at all times in case of an accident. At first it was hard to get around or get adjusted to the living a little different before, but in the end it was well worth it.

Jason August 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

When I got home from my back surgery this past February I was restricted to my bed, and had to have both a nurse and my daughters serve as my caregivers. This was very difficult for me as being a very independent person I am use to doing everything on my own. It is hard not to fight it at first, but if you can push through your pride and pain and let someone help you it really is a great thing.

Hugh August 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Asking for help is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Trust me I know from experience after I had back surgery in March, it was so hard for me to ask my wife, or kids to help me get dressed or even move. When I was able to swallow my pride and just let them help me, I found out that my recovery and health recovered quicker than before. It is hard for us as humans to ask for help at times, but more than often people will go out of their way to help you, and do it without a second thought.

Reed August 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I much like the many other people who have posted comments have had a family member stay at our home where I have taken on the role of caregiver. It is a hard,stressful job but it also allows you to show service and love to our family members. They appreciate it so much, and I soon found out the appreciated it too.

Andre August 23, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I just got a medical alert button and it has been so nice to have. I have yet to use it but I know that one day I will have to use it, and know that regardless of what happens it can save my life. I would rather have a medical alert button that I can simply push than reaching for an out of reach phone. Medical Alert button save lives, that is the honest truth.

Carol Marak October 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm

It’s vital that you make necessary changes to patient’s home before going to hospital. I remember when Mom had open heart surgery.. before she came home (right after surgery) we were told to order a “hospital bed” for her comfort… this was a couple of days before leaving hospital… WOW, did we scramble. So, better be prepared.

Here’s other tips to better prepare for hospital visits too. http://home-care-dover.carebuzz.com/pack-for-a-hospital-stay/

Hope that helps!

Carol Marak
Carebuzz.com

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