When caregiving hits home, parent-proofing your house needs to be part of the plan. I recently had to prepare for my parents stay after my mother’s hip replacement surgery. We needed to determine sleeping arrangements, the bathroom situation, and where and how she (and dad) would spend their days. Here are some things I’ve learned from this experience, both from the hospital stay as well as the stay at my home:
Regarding the hospital stay, we learned that you don’t need much. They provide the basics, such as: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap/shampoo, and a comb. If you’re particular about brands for these items, then, of course, you can bring your own. Other items of your own that you may want to bring are pajamas and robe, an extra jacket in case it gets cold, and your cell phone and charger. Before leaving at the end of the day, we made sure Mom’s phone and extra jacket were within her reach. It was a good thing because she got quite cold during the night.
We thought she would need shoes with a back, but she never wore them, sticking with the gripper socks they provided. She even opted to wear them home. This may not be for you or your loved one, so be sure to have socks and closed-back shoes if that is what you’ll want to wear out of the hospital.
Speaking of leaving the hospital, make sure you have comfortable, easy to maneuver in clothes. You can pack lighter if you wear your “going home” outfit to the hospital.
A few other items you might need while in the hospital:
- protein snacks to take with you medications,
- tissues from home (the hospital provides a small box, but they are rough like sandpaper),
- your own brush (the hospital may give you a comb),
- hair dryer,
- if your particular about your pillow, you might want to bring your own,
- cell phone and charger,
- and, although they have the foam sanitizer at the door and a sink for washing your hands, you may want to have handy bottle of hand sanitizer.
For recovery at my home, she packed according to our Post-Hospital Stay Packing List, but there were also other things we needed to consider for caregiving. I call it “parent-proofing” your house: In addition to the items suggested in my Recovery at Home blog post, here are some additional things I’ve learned:
Fall hazards are real. I have rugs in my house that at times my own family has slipped on. I don’t dare take a risk with my parents, so I’ve removed the risky rugs. Also, as a safety manager in a food plant, I’ve seen the problem with wet floors. I’ve taken extra precautions in the bathroom, to make sure my parents don’t walk on the wet tile. I don’t have a bath mat in my shower, so I squeegee the floor then lay down a towel. But I’ve also learned the hard way that this solution can also cause a trip hazard if the towel does not stay firmly flat to the floor. Be careful with your choices and fit the solution to the need.
Sitting. We had to determine what chairs were easy to get in and out of. The dining room chairs were the obvious choice: hard, high, with arms. But something my mother made me realize is that the back does not go high enough to allow her to rest her head. Sitting in a chair like that all day is not comfortable. (That’s why the patient chair in the hospital room has a high back.) In my house, there is one chair that fits that requirement (with the help of a pillow on the seat), so we moved the chair from the living room to the family room, added a few pillows and she’s been set.
Foot stool. Mom needs to keep her feet up. Consider this need ahead of time. If you don’t have a foot stool, how will you prop their feet. My mother recently found this pillow-like footstool for $30 at Home Goods.
Other common Home Medical Equipment needs are items like: raised toilet seat with handles, seat for the shower, grab bar in the shower, walker, cane, compression socks, etc.
And for both the hospital stay and at home, we’ve used a DinerWear® dining scarf for keeping her clothes clean when she eats. No adult bib for my mom. She gets to keep her fashion sense while protecting her clothes from spills. One less thing to worry about. No stains. Less laundry. It makes caregiving easier.