Caregivers Make All the Difference During a Hospital Stay
When loved ones require a hospital stay, we expect the hospital to provide the best medical care possible to take care of their needs. What we don’t always consider, however, is how being alone in the hospital can affect a person’s emotional and mental state. For elderly people who may already be experiencing reduced mental capacity due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, the hospital environment can exacerbate the problem. Having someone to provide constant companionship and to be an advocate for the patient, whether that’s a family member, close friend, or professional caregiver, can make a huge difference in the patient’s outcome.
Why Patients Struggle in the Hospital
Hospitals by their nature can be depressing places. Bringing a lot of sick people together in one place increases the risk of picking up an infectious disease. Observing the distress of others can also increase the elderly patient’s own distress, especially when there’s no one to offer verbal interaction and companionship. When elderly patients enter this kind of environment, especially when they have limited access to visits from family or friends and if they already have a condition like dementia, their mental decline accelerates. Even mentally healthy patients who don’t have an in-home caregiver to advocate for them may have difficult hospital stays when busy nurses have to care for multiple patients and can’t respond to calls right away.
How Caregivers Can Help
The hospital environment presents challenges for every patient, but caregivers can make a big difference. First, a dedicated caregiver provides companionship and mental stimulation. He or she can be there to talk to the patient, help with basic hygiene like brushing teeth and combing hair, hold a hand, listen, help with trips to the bathroom without having to wait for a nurse, and numerous other simple, everyday tasks. .
Second, a dedicated caregiver can be there to talk to medical staff, request additional help when needed, receive instructions the patient might be unable to remember or comprehend, and make sure the doctor’s instructions for recovery are carried out.
Finally, a caregiver can assist with making sure the hospital room is conducive to recovery. While he or she may not be able to control the responses and vocalizations of other patients, simple steps like closing a door, pulling the privacy curtain, bringing in family pictures, and making sure the room is clean and sanitary can help patients feel more restful.
Considering a Professional Caregiver
Of course, the ideal situation is for a family member or close friend to remain with the patient during his or her hospital stay. But that’s not always possible. When circumstances don’t allow for family and friends to act as the patient’s advocate, a professional caregiver can provide the companionship and interaction with hospital staff that a patient needs in order to facilitate the best possible recovery. Making sure your loved one is never left alone in the hospital is the first step to enabling a faster, stronger recovery.