Imagine this; you’ve finally made it home after a long day at work. After unpacking your things, you start tidying up the kitchen in order to prepare dinner for tonight. Your daughter should be home from soccer practice soon and you know she’ll be hungry. You start to cut up some vegetables when the phone rings. It’s the hospital. They’ve called to tell you that dad is ready to be released from the hospital, in an hour from now – but… you thought this wasn’t happening for another two weeks? A tidal wave of mixed emotions starts crashing through your mind: joy, panic, relief, worry. You’re so glad he’s better, but how are you going to deal with helping dad on top of all the other things going on in your life?
It might be that you don’t have to imagine this situation at all. Maybe it is, or could be, a reality for you and your family. According to Dr. John Sloan, Geriatrics Home Care Physician and Senior Academic Physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, the ‘Hospital to Home’ transition could be among the most dangerous times for your senior loved one. He states that it is very important to have a “care team” and to ensure they are communicating effectively.
“Caregivers should be engaged with older adults and older adults should be engaged with their doctors – to help make sure problems don’t occur. It can be common for medication errors to occur at transition times such as these,” Dr. Sloan explains. It’s not unusual for a doctor to change, add or cancel medications during a hospital visit or even after it. Your loved one is at a higher risk of medication mix-ups and could need more assistance in managing their medication.
It is important that you stay engaged with your parent’s condition although it’s understandable that you cannot be there 24/7. Having a smooth transition will make coming home easier on you and your loved one. If you are lucky enough to know when they are going to be released from the hospital you can prepare their living arrangements and even set up future visits with a consistent CAREGiver. Enlisting the help of a professional CAREGiver can ensure you avoid experiencing caregiver burnout. The strain of balancing your full-time job, your children, other family, your work at home, and the care of your transitioning loved one can drastically diminish, or even eliminate, your time for self-care.
Even though they may be your top priority right now, you can’t forget about yourself. Click here to watch a short animated film entitled, “How Can We Support Carers?” created by the NEIL Programme. The NEIL Programme is a group of large-scale research initiatives that are aiming to enhance the cognitive function in older adults and to prevent dementia in at risk populations. You can learn more about them here and also watch other short, informative clips. At Home Instead Senior Care we want to let you know that you do not have to do this alone. You can have a strong, supportive team working with you to help out with things like: reminding mom to take medication, doing loads of laundry for you, helping dad on walks to ensure he’s safe and strengthening himself again, and so much more. Your care team can take some of the responsibilities off your already overloaded shoulders.
If you want to talk more about your concerns with mom or dad’s transition back home, or even to set up services for their future release date, feel free to call your local Home Instead Office and book a FREE no-obligation consultation. Our Mississauga office can be reached at 905.276.2273, Our Hamilton office at 905.521.5500, or our Etobicoke office at 416.239.2200. If you are outside of these areas, please visit www.homeinstead.ca and enter your postal code to find the nearest location.
You can also take advantage of our Hospital to Home Program. You may be at work when you get the call that mom or dad is ready to leave the hospital. This special package would rid you of the worry of getting mom or dad home from the hospital. It would relieve your stress to know that when you get home the house will be cleaner, they will be fed and comfortable, and you can just be a son or daughter again, rather than their caregiver.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.