No one likes going to the hospital, but here are some tips to have a better stay and better outcomes.
Know what to take (and what not to), if you are able to prepare. Have a friend or loved one bring items you need if you were unable to prepare. Your EasyLiving home caregiver can assist with transportation, bringing you needed items and picking up personal items during your stay.
- A list of your current medications, past medications (especially notes about allergies and medications to which you have had adverse effects or have not worked) and medical history. An online personal health record may be the best way to accomplish this, and you can ask hospital staff to access it or gain access from your smartphone (or that of a caregiver). If you prefer paper, bring the notebook or file with you and preferably, have a backup copy.
- A list of important phone numbers (can be stored in your online record or call phone if you have one).
- Copies of important legal documents (your healthcare surrogate/proxy, living will/advance directives) and insurance cards.
- A notepad for keeping notes of items explained to you and questions you might have, as well as jotting down phone numbers and notes.
- Puzzle books, magazines, books, ipod (and charger) to keep you entertained.
- Slippers, robe, comfortable clothes (and something to go home in).
- DO NOT bring valuables and make sure the hospital catalogs any jewelry and personal items on admission if you do.
- While you don’t want to bring valuables, a small amount of cash for vending machines may be useful.
- Cell phone charger (even if the hospital restricts usage of the cell phone, you likely have your important phone #s stored there).
- Eye glasses and hearing aides.
- Consider ear plugs and an eye covering if you are a light sleeper.
- The “little things” that bring comfort: might be your lipstick or other toiletries, your journal or Bible, fuzzy socks or slippers.
Find out about your insurance coverage and confirm what will be covered and what expenses you can expect to pay. If you speak to someone at your insurance company, take notes of dates, names and specifics. Likewise if the hospital or doctor’s office provides information about coverage, get details of those conversations in case you run in to a problem with payment later.
Get to know the medical team that will be working with you in the hospital. Find out which doctor you have been assigned, if not your usual primary care doctor (and preferably, find out from your primary care physician beforehand how he/she handles hospitalizations: does their team rotate coverage?, do they use hospitalists rather than making hospital visits?, where do they have privileges?). Family caregivers/advocates should also introduce themselves and provide documentation about right to receive information, as well as find out who will be handling the discharge process. Learn when medical staff will typically visit (for example, many doctors who have outside practices will visit hospital patients before or after office hours, so visits may be very early in the morning or late at night when family members often miss them).
Ask questions and make sure you have a comfortable understanding about any tests, procedures or major changes (such as to medication or treatment plan). A professional patient advocate, like our Aging Wisely Florida geriatric care managers can help with this and improve continuity of care for you.
Hire a hospital companion/home health aide sitter when needed. A home health aide/companion can provide extra one-on-one attention and is especially necessary if your loved one has poor safety awareness, such as might be the case with Alzheimer’s/dementia.