Caring for the Caregiver of a Hospitalized Aging Parent or Spouse After Major Surgery

Today I met with Deb, an RN geriatric care manager. It wasn’t in my plan. She was a nurse for my husband’s good friend’s wife during her health ordeal. The now-widowed husband thought she could be of help when my husband comes home. To be polite, I took her phone number before my husband’s hospitalization–not thinking I would need it because, modestly speaking (?), I believe I know myself and my limitations and, from experience with my elderly parents and m-i-l, know what to do when people come home from the hospital–or so I thought.

That said, while I’ve been working on a post about successfully dealing with a loved one’s hospital experience, I was unsure about how to best orchestrate the transition from the hospital to home for my husband–even though I’d spoken to the social worker on the floor (who said I knew everything he was telling me so I should simply call with any additional questions).

That said I wasn’t comfortable, wondering: Could I handle the physical requirements of someone who’d been in the cocoon of intensive care levels, then a few days of rehab and still take care of the food preparation, normal house keeping and leaving the house to do necessary errands that first week? I also remembered something I learned, in my two years of teaching French (before I began counseling): not to say to my students “just raise your hand If you don’t understand.” A very bright student politely asked “How do you know what to ask if you don’t know what you don’t know?” Decades later, I remember that. Thus, I phoned Deb.

I learned shortcuts, strategies and hospital details that I’d never considered. I want to share them, but not tonight. It has been a long day, taking care of myself, the apartment, my husband’s needs, and a commitment to a friend. Thus, I will publish 2 and possibly 3 posts on hospitalization of an aging parent or spouse–but may not be able to publish before Saturday.

While we are all capable, to use our full potential we need to keep key thought “What’s the Goal?” in mind by remembering: We make it easier on ourselves and on those we care about if we do things as well as possible the first time. So I’m taking time out to ensure a smooth homecoming and will be back on Saturday.

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