When someone close to you falls ill, it’s difficult to know how you can help and where to even start. This is even truer if you act as their caregiver. Oftentimes, the best you have to offer is a sense of love and support. Because of a certain injury or sickness, they may have to stay in a healthcare facility for a longer period of time. Help make this process as comfortable as possible by following a few of these insightful tips.

Do Your Research

Before you head to the hospital, assess the overall environment. What are the bathrooms like? Is there storage? Are you able to bring in certain items? These are all questions you should ask prior to your loved one’s stay. Talk to their doctor or visit the hospital’s website to find answers. This way, you’ll know exactly what to bring.

If friends and family come to stay, make sure you’re aware of all guest policies. See if it’s possible to bring in a familiar blanket or pillow to make the environment even more comfortable. Does their room have bacteria-resistant surfaces to further protect their health? Conduct the proper research so you can make your loved one’s life that much easier.

Be an Advocate

Patients, particularly those who are older, are often unable to understand the more technical aspects of their care. Even if they do, it’s always beneficial to have someone there to help them work through it all. Above all else, you should act as an advocate for your loved one. Ask the healthcare professionals involved to keep you constantly updated.

Is there an alternative? Ask about it. What’s the purpose of that prescription? Have them write it down for you so you remember later on. The more involved you are in the process, the better you can stand-up for your loved one. All of this will ensure they receive the proper care.

Organize All Documents

During an inpatient stay, you and your loved one will likely have to fill out some paperwork. The medical team may also give you other information that updates you on their condition. Take note of all of these items and know how you can access them down the line. A great way to stay on top of everything is to keep a folder or three-ring binder with you in the room.

Also include important parts of your loved one’s medical history, like the prescriptions they’re on. Put in a few sheets of notebook paper so you can write down questions or the names of the various people you encounter. No matter what, organization is key.

Bring a Hospital Bag

Sometimes, your loved one will only stay in the hospital for a few days. In this scenario, it isn’t necessary to stock the room with food and clothes. That said, you should try to bring in a hospital bag filled with a few necessities. A few shirts and pants, toiletries and books are a great start.

You can also pack a few items that you can use when your loved one is asleep. Pack some earbuds and a laptop if you’d like to watch movies. This hospital bag will supply you with everything you need for a shorter stay. This way, you won’t have to deal with a bunch of useless items.

Ask Others for Help

As the sole caregiver for your loved one, you may find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed. Don’t try to fight this – at a point, everyone needs a break.

When you need to head home for a shower or some well-deserved sleep, call on your family and friends for help. Know that your loved one appreciates your presence immensely. They’ll understand if you need some time away in order to recharge.

Remember, your life matters, too! When you’re anxious or stressed out, have someone else take your place. Doing so will allow you to recharge and be your best for your loved one.

You’re Not Alone

All caregivers know that overall, this is a tough process. In many ways, the burden falls on you to advocate for your loved one. Sometimes, though, all you can do is sit back and provide a source of comfort for them.

Follow these tips to make their hospital stay as easy as possible. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask those around you. There are dozens of resources available.

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website: http://productivitybytes.com.

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