Recently I had a family member spend the night in the hospital running some tests and being monitored. That meant that I ended up spending quite a bit of time in a hospital chair just like this. Thankfully, my family member only needed one night in the hospital and everything has calmed down and resumed normal life. But I realized that the lessons learned from a hospital chair need to be shared with you, so you will be ready the next you need to sit up with a family member or friend.
Lessons Learned from a Hospital Chair
Things to Take to the Emergency Room
- Your own pillow/blanket
- Something to keep you busy (book, puzzle, knitting project)
- Personal Toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush/paste, change of clothes, hand lotion, chapstick)
- Socks or Houseshoes (the floor gets cold and has germs – you don’t want to be barefoot)
- Healthy snacks (grab an apple or granola bar; juice pack for children)
The #1 thing you don’t want to forget is your phone charger. You will want to keep family members and friends informed of the patient’s progress. If your phone goes dead, you are stuck.
Make sure you have contact numbers for the friends and family members who need to be contacted.
Because many hospitals offer free wi-fi, I wish I had stuck my laptop in my vehicle. That way I would have been able to access my computer while I was sitting there in the waiting mode.
In stressful situations, people often forget important information they hear. When doctors and nurses come in and give you updates on numbers, medicine and treatment, having a second set of ears is very helpful. But you may also want to write the information on a tablet or notebook so you can pass on the information to other family and friends.
Think about yourself
One of the hardest things to do when you are the supporter or caregiver is to remember to eat and sleep. It becomes a stressful situation and taking care of yourself is the last thing on your mind. But remembering to eat and drink fluids is a crucial thing that will allow you the caregiver to be strong and stay healthy. Even if you don’t want to leave the hospital, you can still drink a cup of water and eat a granola bar.
Don’t overlook the hospital cafeteria. Most cafeterias will offer healthier alternatives to the vending machine. It only takes a few minute to buy an apple or ham sandwich that will give you the energy and stamina to stay on watch with your loved one.
When you leave the room, consider taking the stairs at least once or twice. Do a few leg stretches or calf raises while you are waiting by the bedside. While I was in the waiting mode for 24 hours, I ended up feeling stiff from just sitting and watching. By remembering to move a little, you will help yourself stay healthy and alert.
Being in a hospital room for 24 hours was not in our plans last week, but from this experience, I want to be a little more prepared for the next time I find myself in the waiting area looking over a family member.
What other tips should I add to help us keep healthy when we are the support system or caregiver? I’d love to hear from you!