My elderly Mom is ready to be discharged from hospital and ready to go home. What to keep in mind before discharge occurs?
Not knowing why she was in the hospital let’s take a look at different situations may it be a physical ailment or a recovery from a sickness. The hospital is like a time warp with a lot oF noises, commotion, tests and the constant presence of people. Home will be very different, as we know. How will she adapt at home knowing she has been away for some time? Attention to the details can make a huge difference.
The discharge date is set. How is she traveling home? Can she get in and out of car? Or is adapted transportation required (where the person can remain in a wheelchair during transportation)? Make sure to have the paperwork you need before she leaves the hospital or rehab: discharge summary, referrals to specialists, reminders of scheduled follow-up appointments, any identification card that may have left at the admission desk, medication for 24-48 hours (ideally, if possible) and all of her belongings. Now, homeward bound.
Meals: for the first few days will she have the strength to prepare her meals? If not who will be there to prepare them or have them brought to her? What about simply heating up the meals, will she be able to do that? Does she need a specialized diet to help her that much more? Different options for the meals are frozen meals from grocery stores, having someone come in to prepare some meals and provide other assistance as well or if prepared meals are required on a longer term inquire about meals-on-wheels or other local alternatives.
Care: What type of care does she need at home? Are there dressings to change? If so how often and how can provide the assistance if needed?
Assistance with bathing or dressing: At times this requires a physical assistance other times adapted clothing or an adapted bathroom can fill the need of the assistance needed. Examples are a telephone shower head, bath seat, raised toilette seat, sweaters she can pull over her head or button down if she cannot reach her arm above her head, etc.
Set-up of the house: are there stairs outside or inside? Can she manage them? For getting into the house will a ramp be needed or the need to invite a couple strong people to help her up the stairs? If stairs are hard to climb in the house, can a temporary solution be put in place by setting up the bed close to the kitchen and bathroom? Is the phone still easy to use and to reach? What about a cell phone? Could she handle new technology? What about her medication? The system she used before does that still work now? Can the drugstore help to provide a new system that could make it easier to manage and to keep track of what medication is taken when?
Other thoughts that come to mind is laundry, housekeeping, grooming, managing her finances, social interactions….these are all items that need to be considered when going back home after a stay at the hospital. How can help and or support for a long or short term basis be put in place? Look around and ask people around you, you will be surprised by the help and guidance and the specialized services that can help and are available.
Next blog I will look at leaving the hospital and going directly to a retirement residence.