Admission to a hospital can be a difficult time for adult children and their aging parents. In Houston, we’re lucky to be located near the Texas Medical Center in the event of a lengthy hospitalization. However, the struggles of a caregiver can prove to be difficult if a good plan of care isn’t in place to help ensure a smooth transition home and to minimize stress for the family. You may even want to download this care plan worksheet to help you prepare.
Sometimes, the hospital discharge plan may not include all tasks that are necessary to ensure the comfort and safety of your loved one. How will care be provided for those activities that are not covered in the discharge instructions? Will someone need to be at home with your loved one throughout the day or just at specific times during the day?
Outlined below are four key activity areas that may require family caregivers to assume more responsibility, time and effort than normal day-to-day activities. Many of these activities may also require assistance from trained professionals, including home health care aides. You should ask your senior loved one’s medical professionals which ones will likely need to be addressed and also work with your senior to make sure all important paperwork is in order.
- Health Care Tasks
- Change dressings
- Monitor vital signs
- Operate or adjust medical equipment
- Assist with personal hygiene
- Arrange for follow-up care
- Maintain a schedule of health care visits and appointments
- Medication Management
- Order and pick up prescriptions and refills
- Understand all medication labels, instructions and expiration dates
- Administer the correct medication at the right time
- Monitor for side effects
- Store medications properly and safely
- Maintain medication schedule
- Dispose of medications
- Use a medication tracking worksheet to record all medications
- Household Management
- Conduct safety checks
- Prepare special meals such as liquid-only diets
- Take additional shopping trips for special foods and supplies
- Greet and supervise visiting health care and home care professionals
- Arrange for deliveries of medical supplies and equipment
- Family Communications
- Prepare and maintain emergency and medical contact lists
- Communicate frequently with family members
- Pay medical and other bills
- Provide instructions and training to other family members and friends
- Assemble and store important documents like those listed below in a senior emergency kit:
- Advance Directive
- Living Will/Standard Will
- Health Care/Financial Power of Attorney
- Insurance and Financial Documents
If you are considering hiring help from a company offering senior caregiver services, be sure to discuss the above considerations with them as well. They’ll be able to assist in making sure your loved one’s care plan is complete and appropriately carried out. The more information family caregivers can obtain on the current health care needs of their senior loved one, the easier it will be for them to develop, communicate and share a plan of care. There are many different caregiver situations that might arise, so having a plan of care will go a long way to help ensure that family members are well prepared for any situation.
Have you developed a specific plan of care that you find helpful? If so, please share your ideas in our readers’ forum.