So, your spouse needs to have surgery and you are ready, willing and eager to be their caregiver as they recover. That’s awesome—they are lucky you’re available to help!
You’ve taken a few days off of work, have a book to read or Netflix shows to catch up on while your partner is napping. The fridge has been stocked with groceries—you’re good to go, right?
Almost. There are some important things you should know as you take on the role of caregiver after a hospital discharge.
6 tips for caregiving at home after a hospital stay.
- Ask if it’s possible to get a copy of their discharge plan a week before surgery so you can plan ahead for wound care and any special medical devices that will be needed at home after surgery. Having a good understanding of after care will be helpful for both the caregiver and the patient.
- Spend time with your spouse while they are in the hospital so you can watch ambulation (how they move). Observe what kind of assistance is needed to prevent falls so you can replicate that help at home.
- Make sure you have a clear understanding of what medications they will be sent home with and put together a schedule for administering those meds. In many cases patients who have been under anesthesia will experience brain “fuzziness” for a few days (sometimes weeks)—they will need your help keeping meds organized. Read about side effects of all meds and watch for symptoms like dizziness, sleeping too much (overmedicating), swelling or heart racing. Know who to call with questions or concerns.
- Talk to your partner about their wishes regarding medication management. Ask about their pain level every day and whether they are comfortable—work towards a goal of getting off pain meds as soon as possible to prevent possible pain medication addictions.
- The length of your caregiving duties will vary depending on the type of surgery your partner had. If you’re providing care for longer than three days pre-arrange for some respite time. Have a trusted friend or another family member relieve you for a couple of hours every day or so.
- Be patient and kind. Your spouse may be tired and sore…and they may be a bit stunned by the whole experience. They may typically be independent and not used to asking for help with personal care tasks. Accepting help may be hard for them—your attitude towards providing care matters.
In today’s world, patients are discharged from the hospital pretty quickly after surgery…often needing a lot of aftercare at home.
When those obstacles get in the way of providing care for a loved one after they are discharged from the hospital, hiring a licensed caregiver is a good alternative. Caregivers like Take My Hand At-Home Care, located north of Bellingham, WA, can provide temporary care to surgery patients at home.
Caregivers can “live-in” for 24-hour care or they can come for an 8 or 12 hour shift—covering you while you’re at work or helping at night so you can get much needed sleep.
The best tip for caregiving at home is to plan ahead and be prepared. Plan with your loved one, educate yourself on the role of family caregiver or hire a licensed caregiver to help.