Wow! You did it. You have had your surgery and you’re ready to transition to home. Let’s do this. In our last 2 columns, we talked about how to get your home ready - how to have your home ready for your return out of the hospital.
Today, let’s look at what you need to do while you or your Mom is in the hospital immediately after surgery (or whatever brought her to the hospital).
When Mom is in the hospital, you need to keep close track of what is going on with her care. Not to check on the nursing staff. Rather, you need to keep close track because you are about to take over when she goes home. You need to know exactly what’s been going on at the hospital.
First, ask Mom. Ask mom how she is doing. Is she eating her meals? What medications is she taking? How is she getting to and from the bathroom? Is she taking a shower? You need to ask Mom, then ask the nurses the same questions. I say this, not to go behind Mom’s back, but rather, to understand her perspective. You really need to know how Mom sees herself doing.
Don’t panic when her report and the nurse’s report don’t match. Mom has not suddenly contracted Alzheimer’s disease. She may be metabolizing medications out of her system that makes her confused. She is also in the hospital which makes people a half bubble off. The stress of the surgery also plays a role in her mental status.
Remain calm when the nurse’s report and Mom’s report do not match up. It’s ok. Just take the information and make a plan. You certainly need to know if Mom is eating and drinking. First off, is she still on an IV? If she is, then dehydration is not a problem. At home, she will not be on an IV. Dehydration is a serious risk for all of us let alone a senior.
Mom will need a significant amount of fluids. If she doesn’t like to drink water, you have a challenge. You will need to get creative in how you get Mom to drink - stay hydrated. This issue of hydration will land you back in the ER (Emergency Room) if you’re not careful.
Is Mom eating ok? This situation also leads to is Mom using the bathroom regularly - daily. Mom needs to be having a bowel movement every day. If not, she is at risk. You might find yourself at the ER over this one issue (which is so closely related to dehydration).
If you are male or caring for a male, urination may very well be an issue which could have serious implications. Being able to urinate is vital. Did Mom or Dad have a catheter in the hospital? When was it taken out? You need to know that Mom or Dad can urinate easily before going home. The nursing staff will also be looking at this issue as well.
Back to the constipation issue. You may find Mom having constipation issues especially if she is on pain medications. Be sure that you have discussed this with her physician or the nurses as to the interventions in place to mitigate the risk of constipation ahead of time. Don’t wait.
If Mom has not had a bowel movement for over a day. Take action immediately. Again, be proactive and play offense with bowel movements and hydration. Stay ahead of the game.
Next week we’ll take it from here and talk more about how you can prepare while Mom is in the hospital before you go home.
God Bless you all as you care for your parents, wife, husband, family member, or friend. Don’t forget - You are winning! God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America.