When you or a loved one leaves a hospital or a nursing and rehabilitation center, recovery does not end, it is just beginning. Here are five things to keep in mind as a patient or a family member during this critical time of healing.
Plan for Your Hospital Discharge in Advance. Hospitals offer valuable discharge planning resources and dedicated staff members to help patients and their families plan for the move home. Make sure to ask as many questions you can about your illness, the medicines you will be taking and how they might interact with other medications or supplements you are used to taking. If you will have follow-up appointments, preplan how you will get to them if you aren’t able to drive yourself. There are agencies in the community that can help. If you require more care in the home from a family caregiver, does that person understand the demands of the position and feel prepared to take on the responsibility? For a full checklist of items to consider before discharge, visit: https://www.caregiver.org/hospital-discharge-planning-guide-families-and-caregivers.
Prepare Your Home. If your illness requires accommodations to be made at home, like installing a ramp for a wheelchair or removing obstacles that may make it difficult to walk, make sure you know beforehand so you can ask family or friends for help to make these changes.
Have Realistic Expectations About Your Recovery. It’s common for patients or their family members to expect a full return to their pre-hospital selves after a health event. However, this is sometimes not possible, and not maintaining realistic expectations about recovery can lead to disappointment and depression.
At minimum, many patients will need to make lifestyle changes to prevent the kind of event that caused the hospitalization from happening again. These changes may include dietary or exercise adjustments. On the other hand, patients may require on-going additional treatment, monitoring or rehabilitation. Before leaving the hospital, make sure you understand the kind of improvement that could take place and what further therapy or treatment is needed for the best outcome.
Plan for Extra Expenses. While insurance and Medicare can reduce the burden of many out-of-pocket expenses, be sure to keep track of all income sources such as social security, pensions, monthly/yearly income, savings and investments. Keeping track of income sources demonstrates what you are able to cover that Medicare and insurance do not, like deductibles, copays or potential nursing home care. You do not want to be surprised down the road by compounded expenses if you are able to plan for how to pay them up front.
Keep Detailed Notes, Records and Files. Especially for complex medical treatment, there is an overflow of information about your doctors, your conditions and your medications. Make sure to keep a detailed file of the contact information for all of your doctors, medications, medical history and follow-up appointments. Share this information with anyone who is helping with your care so everyone has easy access to important information
If you have questions about your healthcare care needs, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak with one of our Registered Nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week.