If they could choose, most older people say they’d prefer not to stay even one night in hospital. That might seem a little harsh. After all, hospitals are full of some of the most clever, caring and warm staff you could ever meet. But, home’s where the heart is. If you’re used to receiving homecare, the thought of hospital treatment can be an anxious time, particularly if you are elderly. One way to reduce your stress levels is to prepare well and pack a suitable bag for your stay in hospital
We’ve consulted broadly so read on for a list of everything an older person might need for a stay in hospital.
It’s All About the Bag and What to Pack for a Hospital Stay
For a short visit, take an inflight case that has wheels, if you have one. Those hospital corridors can be long. The design of these kinds of cases and bags means they typically have compartments you can use to divide up your belongings.
The first things to go in should be your toiletry bag and sufficient underwear for your stay. A small pack of handy wet wipes along with a favourite hand cream or moisturizer are useful extras.
The Paperwork and Keeping in Touch
No packing list is ever going to be exhaustive. Remember that if you do forget something, it’s not the end of the world. Everything is replaceable and everything is retrievable.
You should bring with you any documentation that you think the hospital might need to see. This could include things like medical cards, referral letters from your doctor or some form of ID. A debit card and a small amount of cash will also be useful.
If you have a smartphone you use regularly, bring it along with its mains charger and a separate power pack if you have one. Make sure you understand how to turn it on and off and how to put it into silent mode.
Pack a set of headphones if you use your phone for listening to the radio and podcasts or for watching TV. Hospitals can be noisy places, so bring a set of earplugs and an eye mask too if you have one.
Bring Something Familiar
Hospitals would typically encourage you to leave valuables at home. However, bringing something you enjoy using every day at home can help you relax and make your stay a bit more pleasant. You might have a favourite blanket, towel or cushion that could come with you, for example.
You should also bring the clothes you prefer sleeping in along with a cardigan or some similar loose-fitting overgarments. Pack sufficient changes of these types of clothing. Bring slippers and sandals for trips to the bathroom.
It’s possible you may need to have certain tests or treatments like injections through your arms. It’s a good idea to pack enough short-sleeved shirts. Remember to bring a change of clothing for when the hospital discharges you.
Here are some other useful items things to pack for your hospital stay:
- A protective case and containers for glasses or dentures
- A book, magazines and some puzzles to pass the time
- A pen and paper to write down notes and reminders from doctors or nurses
- A photo or two of family or loved ones
- A favourite mug and water bottle
Something that many older persons overlook is to think about ways to help reduce the stress they might experience during a hospital stay. You can do a lot to prepare beforehand when you pack a suitable bag.
But here are some ideas to take with you:
These can be helpful when you feel distressed, especially if you experience disquiet that makes you feel unreal or detached. Remember this 5,4,3,2,1 approach for when you are in hospital. It can help you deal better with feelings of anxiety.
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things that you can hear
- 3 things you can touch (go ahead and touch them too)
- 2 things you can smell or like the smell of
Finally, take 1 slow, deep breath.
Look around you, take note of the colours, any people and the shapes of any objects you see. Listen carefully to the sounds around you. These could be things like traffic noise or vibrations from a radiator or fan.
Feel how your clothes touch your skin. Concentrate on things like the movement in your hair as you gently shake your head or how your feet feel on the floor or whilst lying in bed.
Some older people like to carry a grounding object with them such as a stone or other small item, perhaps something that has special personal meaning. They use it for comfort by touching it when they need to calm themselves.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercises
Mindfulness has become a successful alternative treatment for anxiety. Doctors often recommend courses in the technique instead of taking medication. There are plenty of books and apps that can start you off.
Breathing exercises are a good place to begin. Breathe deeply down to your stomach. Place your hand there so that it gets pushed up and down as you take each breath.
Visualise that you have a balloon or football in your belly and that you’re inflating it as you breathe in, and deflating as you breathe out.
When you do this, along with breathing more slowly and more deeply, you can allay any feelings of panic you may be experiencing.
Reading, colouring or watching TV can all help take your mind off any concerns and worries, as can speaking with friends and family on the phone.
You could try playing mental games or exercises like these as well:
- Count backwards in 7s from 100
- Think of 10 different animals and 10 blue things
- Write down 1 animal or country for each letter of the alphabet
- Say the alphabet slowly or say it backwards
Comfort Keepers Homecare Services Are Here to Help You
Our homecare staff can assist you in preparing for your hospital visit. Because they know them so well, our carers will be able to make useful suggestions to their clients about things they might want to pack for any forthcoming hospital stay.
To find out more about our homecare services, contact Comfort Keepers today!