Regaining Your Strength After a Hospital Stay: 5 Tips!

Part of what I do as an advocate is help make transitions out of care facilities as smooth as possible. In an ideal system, safe transfer between and out of facilities would be a given, but very often, this is simply not the case. Here are my 5 tips to combat the most dangerous part of a hospital stay: Discharge.

Tip #1 - Stay Connected! 

When we're not at our best, like during a hospiItal stay, it's really common to not want lots of people around. However, research has concluded that both physical and mental decline are common side effects of a lengthy hospital stay. To help avoid getting the blues, instead of withdrawing from everyone, try and keep in touch with your friends and family. This can be as simple as a phone call, a text, an email or even through social media. Now I'm not usually one to promote the use of social media, but in this case, it could actually improve your strength and ensure your success in having a quicker recuperation. So, stay - in - touch!

Tip #2 - Before you go home, make sure you have a plan!

Want to hear a sad fact? Almost 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital after 30 days, according to the National Institutes of Health .

One way to help avoid this- and to ensure that your recuperation is only positive- is to ensure that BEFORE you leave, you check in with your medical team and make sure there's a written plan in place for what to do in the first hours, then the first days and then the following weeks following your discharge. Equally important is to make sure you review the plan with your medical team to make sure you understand what is expected. 

Consider having someone with you when reviewing your plan so you have a second set of ears taking in the specific instructions including medications schedules, wound care and even limitations of movement. Following these instructions is important for a successful recovery. So - BEFORE YOU GO HOME - MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLAN!

 

Tip #3 – Keep Moving!

 Want to hear something funny - in a dark kinda way....? Hospitals are the worst place to be when you're sick. That’s right- the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has reported that hospital acquired infections (HAI’s) account for almost 100,00 deaths every year. BUT - there are things you can do to be proactive! – Tip #3 for Regaining Your Strength After A Hospital Stay is - KEEP MOVING!

To help avoid Hospital Acquired Infections, and to help ensure your recovery process is as good as it can be - Keep Moving!

There was a time when bed rest was considered the best way to recover, but today it has become clear that gradually increasing exercise is imperative for regaining strength. Even if you are too weak to stand, there are exercises that can be done from a chair or bed that can increase your strength and mobility. So, to help avoid HAI's and to help ensure your recovery process is as good as it can be - So, KEEP MOVING!

Tip #4 – Eat & Drink For Energy!

Picture this scene in your mind... On the table in front of you, there’s a Styrofoam cup filled with a watery broth, orange Jell-O, and generic saltinesell; you get the idea. Very few people will tell you that they really enjoyed their hospital food, and yet, another tip for regaining your strength after a hospital stay is EAT & DRINK FOR ENERGY!

While hospital food may not be the most appealing, many facilities today have upped their game and have a cafeteria with other options. It’s also OK to ask a family member or friend bring you something you like. Watching what you eat and choosing foods that will provide you the most bang for your buck in terms of the needed proteins and nutrients will be key in your recovery. Also be sure you're getting enough liquids, and, if you don't have an appetite, try eating smaller more frequent meals until your appetite returns. So, EAT & DRINK FOR ENERGY!

Tip #5 – Ease Back Into Your Routine!

A hospital stay is NO fun for anyone. Most of us can't wait to get out of the silly gown with our butts hanging out, and want to get back to the comfort of our own beds in the comfort of our own homes. Which leads me to my final installment in this shorts series of Tips for Regaining Your Strength After A Hospital Stay. #5 - Ease Back Into Your Routine!

Depending on the level of recovery needed, going straight home may not be the best option.

Recovery can be a challenging process with lots of important directives that can be hard to remember. Remember Tip #2? Have a PLAN! It's for this very reason, that occasionally, depending on the level of recovery needed, going straight home may not be the best option. We know you don't want to be a bother to anyone, but the truth is, there are many options today for short-term care, skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers that can help you ease back into a normal routine without having it dropped in your lap like a lead weight. So, EASE BACK INTO YOUR ROUTINE!

For more self advocacy tips, check out this blog: Don't Be a Complacent Patient 

For a patient advocate perspective, check out this blog: How A Private Patient Advocate Can Help When A Loved One Is In The Hospital