As a family caregiver for my mom, I’ve recently had many learning experiences. My newest lesson was when Mom, 78, fell twice and ended up in the emergency room.
When I got to the ER, my first stop was the nurses’ station to request a social worker to assist with our next steps. The nurse assigned to Mom said she had several compression fractures. The social worker explained that they would not be admitting her, since the course of care for this type of injury is bedrest. No matter how well Mom and I planned for “what if,” we certainly did not prepare for this. Essentially, she was now bed-bound until the compression fractures healed. The next two months would be a challenge comprised of a foster home, two trips to the ER and one hospital admission, inpatient rehab, and eventually, a discharge with home therapy in place. Thankfully, she is now walking.
My Learning Experience
Social worker : your best hospital resource
Introduce yourself as soon as possible. Voice your concerns, what resources you have available (family caregivers, home care services, etc.), and what condition and level of independence your loved one enjoyed before admission. The goal is to return home in the same (or better) condition.
Ask questions and do your homework
If the plan is to transition to a rehab or care facility, a simple search on Yelp.com can reveal personal experiences that people have had at these facilities. Do your own site visit to potential facilities. Ask questions about therapy, food, activities, visitor policies and possible pet visits.
Remember, beds are limited, so you might have to consider other facilities.
Set up a care plan meeting upon admission
Once you get into the rehab facility and fill out the admission forms, it is best to set up a meeting with “the team” that will be working hard to rehabilitate your loved one. If you don’t already have a meeting scheduled, ask for one — and be sure to tour the facility so you know your way around.
Bringing personal items
Since your loved one will be there for an extended visit, things that will remind them of home — a family photo, pictures of a spouse or pets, reading material and any hobby items — will help pass the time. Take any valuables home with you. There is no need for jewelry or purses, and clearly label all personal laundry items with your loved one’s name.
Be prepared. If assistive devices are needed, they should be in place before your senior comes home. If you are using an in-home care service, arrange for it ahead of discharge. Ask for training if you are planning to help your loved one with transfers or bathing. And finally, be sure to update all follow-up appointments and medications with your loved one’s primary care physician.
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