How to Support a Hospitalized Senior

How to Support a Hospitalized Senior





Helping a Senior While They’re In the Hospital


A stay in the hospital can be confusing, scary, and painful. When your older adult is seriously ill or after a medical emergency, they need extra support during their hospital stay.

Having an advocate, emotional support, and extra assistance reduces the risk of complications like delirium and can help speed up their recovery.

Here are some ways you can support your older adult while they’re in the hospital including plenty of practical suggestions.


Advocating for Hospitalized Seniors


Visit Often

It’s important to stay with your older adult or visit as often as you can. Familiar faces and trusted people who will watch out for their best interests are a great comfort.

Because your older adult is recovering from a serious health event, they may not be up to doing much.

Gentle, low-key activities they may enjoy during a visit include:

  • Sitting quietly together, perhaps holding hands or gently stroking their arm
  • Softly listening to their favorite music
  • Giving them a gentle massage on non-sensitive parts of the body
  • Reading aloud from books or the newspaper
  • Eating a meal together (you would bring your own)
  • Telling them about what you, close family, and friends have been doing lately so they won’t feel left out
  • Bringing a computer or tablet to watch a favorite show or movie together



Advocate and Monitor

Mistakes, especially with medication and food, often happen in hospitals and staff aren’t always around when needed for assistance.

When you’re with your older adult, make notes of the medication they’re being given to make sure it’s the correct drug at the correct dose, given at the right time. If other family and friends are available, work out a schedule to maximize coverage of hours and use a notebook to keep everyone informed.

It’s also important to check that your older adult is getting the right levels of medication. They shouldn’t be in pain or overmedicated. Improperly managed pain can slow the healing and recovery process. Overmedication can cause negative side effects and increases the chances of developing delirium.

Don’t assume that the staff is carefully reading the notes in your older adult’s chart (if there even are any). It’s necessary to make sure the nurse in charge and other staff are aware of any special needs and how to take care of those needs. If your older adult has dementia, dysphagia, severe arthritis, or other health conditions, they may need extra help and patience.

If your older adult has special needs for food, make sure to check all their food and beverages. They may need thickened drinks for dysphagia, a low salt diet for high blood pressure, low sugar for diabetes, etc. Things could get mixed up and they could get the wrong food or drinks. If they’re not aware enough to refuse the incorrect meal, they could accidentally eat or drink it and have a problem.

In terms of getting help, like assistance going to the bathroom or another blanket when they’re cold, sometimes it takes a strong advocate to get timely attention from busy hospital staff.


Anchor to Reality to Avoid Disorientation

Many cases of hospital-induced delirium are triggered by treatments that older adults are especially sensitive to, like large doses of anti-anxiety drugs and narcotics. Speak with the doctor to minimize the amount of these medications and, if you’re noticing negative side effects, ask them to make changes immediately.

Other cases of delirium are caused by the busy, noisy, brightly-lit environments where sleep is constantly interrupted. To reduce the risk, ask staff to lower the lights when possible, turn down noisy machines when possible, close the door to keep noise down, stay with them so they have a familiar face around, and arrange for them to get a maximum amount of sleep.

Periodic blood draws and vital sign readings are very disruptive to rest and sleep. Ask doctors and nurses if these can be done in coordination or less frequently (without harm to health). This keeps your older adult from being constantly poked and prodded, especially in the middle of the night.

You may also want to add some anchoring elements in their room. Make a large-print clock and calendar visible so if they like, your older adult can see the time and date. Add a family photo so they always have familiar faces to look at.

Example: This unique 8″ High Resolution Digital Clock clearly spells out the time, full day of the week, month and date in large, clear letters.


Make Your Hospitalized Senior More Comfortable

Being in the hospital also means missing the comforts of home. Depending on the situation, it may help to bring in a few inexpensive items that would make them more comfortable.

Some items to consider:




Snoozies Womens Brocade Shine Ballerina Comfort Split Slipper Socks - Pink, Large

Snoozies Slippers – sherpa lining, non-skid, memory foam comfort split sole, machine washable

MIXIN Men's Microsuede Vamp and Rubber Sole Indoor Outdoor Moccasin Flat Slipper Shoes Dark Brown US 11

MIXIN Men’s Comfortable Microsuede Slipper with anti-slip rubber sole

Woman Within Cardigan – Machine Washable



Assist With Physical Activity

Moving around and doing prescribed therapy helps with recovery. Spending too much time lying in bed weakens muscles and increases the risk of blood clots, confusion, and bed sores. Of course, the priority is still to keep your older adult safe and not to overdo it.

If possible, go to any physical, occupational, or speech therapy sessions. Watch and take notes on what the therapist asks them to work on. Ask if there are exercises you can help them practice outside of the sessions.

Whenever possible, ask your older adult to take short walks or practice therapy exercises. With you at their side to keep them steady and safe, they’ll be able to increase their activity level and speed recovery.



Plan For Discharge and Recovery

Hospital discharge nurses are often overloaded and may not spend enough time helping patients and family understand everything they need to know. That’s why it’s so important to advocate for your senior and make sure you both have all the necessary information before leaving the hospital.

Even though your older adult is able to leave the hospital, they’ll still need extra care. They might even need an intense level of care for weeks or months.

Studies show that 40% of patients over 65 had medication errors after leaving the hospital. Even worse, 18% of Medicare patients discharged from a hospital were readmitted within 30 days. Many of the issues that cause problems with recovery can be prevented if you and your older adult are well-prepared for hospital discharge.

A hospital discharge checklist is an essential tool that prepares for a successful recovery. It tells you key questions to ask doctors and nurses, what information is must-have, the level of care needed, and what supplies to get.

A successful discharge means that your older adult leaves the hospital and continues their recovery without major problems.

Being prepared for the next step down in care, whether it’s at home or in a facility, is important for a strong recovery. You should receive the information, services, and resources needed to help your senior before they leave the hospital.

When your senior is discharged (released) from the hospital, it means their doctor has determined that they’ve recovered enough to no longer need hospital-level care. It does NOT mean they’re fully recovered.

Even though your older adult is able to leave the hospital, they will still need extra care. They might even need an intense level of care for weeks or months.

Some people are well enough to get proper care and rehab at home (like physical therapy). Others may need a short-term stay in a skilled nursing facility.

You can use this hospital discharge checklist from Medicare to help you remember the important things and prevent problems. A successful discharge helps your senior regain as much independence as possible.



Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided some helpful information and ideas.  The links below provide guides on items you might need at home after hospital discharge.







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Washing Your Senior’s Hair in Bed: Step-by-Step Instructions


How to Wash Your Senior’s Hair in Bed

Step-by-Step Instructions







When they’re not able to get into the shower or bath, it can seem impossible to keep their hair and scalp clean. No-rinse shampoos, dry shampoo, or wiping with wet cloths are helpful, but aren’t quite as good as a thorough hair washing.


A real wash with water and regular shampoo will make your senior feel more comfortable and keeps their scalp healthier.


Most of us have experienced (at least second-hand) the issues that arise when someone is sick and in bed for an extended period of time. The hair gets limp and often oily, matted with sweat and will tend to begin to smell after a few days.



Short Term Solutions


The short-term solution is the use of a “dry shampoo” or a “no-rinse” shampoo. These are typically similar in purpose, but are intended for differing hair types.


Dry shampoo is typically packaged as an aerosol spray that contains an oil-absorbing ingredient that can be brushed out of the hair once it has done its job.

It’s typically used with those who have oily hair or straight-to-wavy hair types.

You simply spray the powdery spray onto the hair at the scalp, let it dry (meaning allow the fast-drying propellant to evaporate) and use a natural-bristle brush to brush out the residue.

Before the creation of specific products for this purpose, many people would use talcum powder or corn starch in small amounts to produce the same effects.




No-rinse shampoos are liquid based, and usually come in a foaming formulation that is applied liberally to the hair and allowed to dry on their own without rinsing.

They often contain alcohol or other quick-drying ingredients as well as including leave-in conditioners to soften the hair and make it more manageable. These are used more with individuals with wavy-to-curly hair types and those whose hair tends to be dry or fly-away.

When my mom was in the hospital, the nurse used a No Rinse Shampoo Cap to wash Mom’s hair.  She just warmed the cap briefly in the microwave, put it on, and massaged Mom’s hair through the cap. Then she towel dried Mom’s hair a little, and let it air dry.  I was surprised to see what a good job it did at getting her hair and scalp clean.  This is a great option for a fast, no mess wash. 



Long Term Solution – A Thorough Cleansing


While dry and no-rinse shampoos are great for the short-term, after a while, they seem less effective as the hair begins to develop build-up. When this happens, you want to be able to give the hair a thorough cleansing. To do this, you need to look at the process a little differently than you might normally consider it.



What You’ll Need


Johnson's Baby Shampoo, Calming Lavender, 20 Ounce


  • Garbage bags and/or a few towels to line the bed and keep it dry
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Bucket of warm water
  • Cup for scooping water
  • Empty bucket to drain dirty water



Follow These 12 Steps


1.   Lay out all your supplies so you know you have everything you’ll need

2.   Line the bed to keep it from getting wet

3.   Fill one bucket with warm water

4.   Gently place your senior’s head into the inflatable basin

5.   Make sure the basin is set up to drain into the empty bucket

6.   Scoop warm water from the full bucket to wet their hair

7.   Use a small amount of shampoo; using too much will make it difficult to rinse out

8.   Scoop warm water to rinse hair completely

9.   If hair is very dirty, shampoo and rinse again

10. When hair is clean, gently remove your senior’s head from the basin

11.  Wrap their head in a dry towel to keep them warm and comfortable

12.  Make sure the basin is fully drained – you might need to tip it over into the bathtub



This video shows how to wash a bed bound person’s hair using an inflatable shampoo basin:





The DMI Basin is easy to inflate and stores easily and compactly when not in use. It has a convenient tube attached so you can drain the water into a large basin or the sink if it’s nearby. The bed shampooer is constructed of heavy duty vinyl for durability and is easy to clean. It even has a little built-in pillow for the head.




DMI Deluxe Inflatable Bed Shampooer Basin, White




The basin is extra deep and constructed of easy-to-clean heavy duty vinyl, and includes a 40″ drain tube.  It measures 24 x 20 x 8 inches.  Read the reviews.





Some Nice Extras for Comfort


  • Plugging ears with cotton balls to keep water from getting in
  • Lining the neck opening with a small towel to protect from scratchy plastic seams
  • Giving them a washcloth to hold on their face if they’re concerned that you might get water in their eyes
  • Using a soothing lavender-scented shampoo for a relaxing experience



It can be challenging, but it’s definitely doable.  The most important things to remember are to have everything you need in easy reach before you begin, and to do what you can to make the experience both relaxing and pleasant for both of you.


Please share your tips with washing a bed-bound person’s hair in bed.


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Prevent Bed Sores

How to Prevent and Treat Bed Sores


Anyone who remains lying or sitting in one position for more than a couple of hours is at risk for skin breakdown. This can lead to pressure sores, which are also known as pressure ulcers or bedsores. These skin problems can be painful and decrease a person’s quality of life. 




Causes of Bed Sores


Someone who cannot change position in bed or is limited to sitting in a chair needs to be helped to change position every hour or two.


Repositioning, pressure reduction, and good skin care are all necessary to prevent skin problems and to keep small problems from getting worse.


Bedsores are caused by pressure against the skin that limits blood flow to the skin and nearby tissues. Other factors related to limited mobility can make the skin vulnerable to damage and contribute to the development of pressure sores.




Three primary contributing factors of bed sores are:


  • Sustained pressure. When your skin and the underlying tissues are trapped between bone and a surface such as a wheelchair or a bed, the pressure may be greater than the pressure of the blood flowing in the tiny vessels (capillaries) that deliver oxygen and other nutrients to tissues. Without these essential nutrients, skin cells and tissues are damaged and may eventually die.
  • This kind of pressure tends to happen in areas that aren’t well-padded with muscle or fat and that lie over a bone, such as your spine, tailbone, shoulder blades, hips, heels and elbows.
  • Friction. Friction is the resistance to motion. It may occur when the skin is dragged across a surface, such as when you change position or a care provider moves you. The friction may be even greater if the skin is moist. Friction may make fragile skin more vulnerable to injury.
  • Shear. Shear occurs when two surfaces move in the opposite direction. For example, when a hospital bed is elevated at the head, you can slide down in bed. As the tailbone moves down, the skin over the bone may stay in place — essentially pulling in the opposite direction. This motion may injure tissue and blood vessels, making the site more vulnerable to damage from sustained pressure.



Risk of Bed Sores


People are at risk of developing pressure sores if they have difficulty moving and are unable to easily change position while seated or in bed. Immobility may be due to:


  • Generally poor health or weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Injury or illness that requires bed rest or wheelchair use
  • Recovery after surgery
  • Sedation
  • Coma


Other factors that increase the risk of pressure sores include:


  • Age.  The skin of older adults is generally more fragile, thinner, less elastic and drier than the skin of younger adults. Also, older adults usually produce new skin cells more slowly. These factors make skin vulnerable to damage.
  • Lack of sensory perception. Spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders and other conditions can result in a loss of sensation. An inability to feel pain or discomfort can result in not being aware of bedsores or the need to change position.
  • Weight loss. Weight loss is common during prolonged illnesses, and muscle atrophy and wasting are common in people with paralysis. The loss of fat and muscle results in less cushioning between bones and a bed or a wheelchair.
  • Poor nutrition and hydration. People need enough fluids, calories, protein, vitamins and minerals in their daily diet to maintain healthy skin and prevent the breakdown of tissues.
  • Excess moisture or dryness. Skin that is moist from sweat or lack of bladder control is more likely to be injured and increases the friction between the skin and clothing or bedding. Very dry skin increases friction as well.
  • Bowel incontinence. Bacteria from fecal matter can cause serious local infections and lead to life-threatening infections affecting the whole body.
  • Medical conditions affecting blood flow. Health problems that can affect blood flow, such as diabetes and vascular disease, increase the risk of tissue damage.
  • Smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow and limits the amount of oxygen in the blood. Smokers tend to develop more-severe wounds, and their wounds heal more slowly.
  • Limited alertness. People whose mental awareness is lessened by disease, trauma or medications may be unable to take the actions needed to prevent or care for pressure sores.
  • Muscle spasms. People who have frequent muscle spasms or other involuntary muscle movement may be at increased risk of pressure sores from frequent friction and shearing.



Stages of Bed Sores and Pressure Sores


Bedsores fall into one of four stages based on their severity. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, a professional organization that promotes the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, defines each stage as follows:



Stage I Bed Sores


  • The beginning stage of a pressure sore has the following characteristics:
  • The skin is not broken.
  • The skin appears red on people with lighter skin color, and the skin doesn’t briefly lighten (blanch) when touched.
  • On people with darker skin, the skin may show discoloration, and it doesn’t blanch when touched.
  • The site may be tender, painful, firm, soft, warm or cool compared with the surrounding skin.


Stage II Bed Sores


  • The outer layer of skin (epidermis) and part of the underlying layer of skin (dermis) is damaged or lost.
  • The wound may be shallow and pinkish or red.
  • The wound may look like a fluid-filled blister or a ruptured blister.


Stage III Bed Sores –  the ulcer is a deep wound:


  • The loss of skin usually exposes some fat.
  • The ulcer looks crater-like.
  • The bottom of the wound may have some yellowish dead tissue.
  • The damage may extend beyond the primary wound below layers of healthy skin.

Stage IV Bed Sores –  ulcer shows large-scale loss of tissue:


  • The wound may expose muscle, bone or tendons.
  • The bottom of the wound likely contains dead tissue that’s yellowish or dark and crusty.
  • The damage often extends beyond the primary wound below layers of healthy skin.


Unstageable Bed Sores


A pressure ulcer is considered unstageable if its surface is covered with yellow, brown, black or dead tissue. It’s not possible to see how deep the wound is.

  • Deep tissue injury
  • A deep tissue injury may have the following characteristics:
  • The skin is purple or maroon but the skin is not broken.
  • A blood-filled blister is present.
  • The area is painful, firm or mushy.
  • The area is warm or cool compared with the surrounding skin.
  • In people with darker skin, a shiny patch or a change in skin tone may develop.


Common Sites of Bed Sores and Pressure Sores





For people who use a wheelchair, pressure sores often occur on skin over the following sites:


  • Tailbone or buttocks
  • Shoulder blades and spine
  • Backs of arms and legs where they rest against the chair



For people who are confined to a bed, common sites include the following:

  • Back or sides of the head
  • Rim of the ears
  • Shoulders or shoulder blades
  • Hip, lower back or tailbone
  • Heels, ankles and skin behind the knees


When to See a Doctor for Bed Sores or Pressure Sores


If you notice early signs or symptoms of a pressure ulcer, change your position to relieve the pressure on the area. If you don’t see improvement in 24 to 48 hours, contact your doctor. Seek immediate medical care if you show signs of infection, such as fever, drainage or a foul odor from a sore, or increased heat and redness in the surrounding skin.


Complications of Pressure Ulcers


  • Sepsis. Sepsis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream through broken skin and spread throughout the body. It’s a rapidly progressing, life-threatening condition that can cause organ failure.
  • Cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and connected soft tissues. It can cause severe pain, redness and swelling. People with nerve damage often do not feel pain with this condition. Cellulitis can lead to life-threatening complications.
  • Bone and joint infections. An infection from a pressure sore can burrow into joints and bones. Joint infections (septic arthritis) can damage cartilage and tissue. Bone infections (osteomyelitis) may reduce the function of joints and limbs. Such infections can lead to life-threatening complications.
  • Cancer. Another complication is the development of a type of squamous cell carcinoma that develops in chronic, nonhealing wounds (Marjolin ulcer). This type of cancer is aggressive and usually requires surgery.


Treatment for Bedsores


Stage I and II bedsores usually heal within several weeks to months with conservative care of the wound and ongoing, appropriate general care. Stage III and IV bedsores are more difficult to treat.


Addressing the many aspects of wound care usually requires a multidisciplinary approach. Members of your care team may include:


  • A primary care physician who oversees the treatment plan
  • A physician specializing in wound care
  • Nurses or medical assistants who provide both care and education for managing wounds
  • A social worker who helps you or your family access appropriate resources and addresses emotional concerns related to long-term recovery
  • A physical therapist who helps with improving mobility
  • A dietitian who monitors your nutritional needs and recommends an appropriate diet
  • A neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon or plastic surgeon, depending on whether you need surgery and what type

Reducing Pressure to Heal Bed Sores


The first step in treating a bedsore is reducing the pressure that caused it. Strategies include the following:


  • Repositioning. If you have a pressure sore, you need to be repositioned regularly and placed in correct positions. If you use a wheelchair, try shifting your weight every 15 minutes or so. Ask for help with repositioning every hour. If you’re confined to a bed, change positions every two hours.
  • If you have enough upper body strength, try repositioning yourself using a device such as a trapeze bar. Caregivers can use bed linens to help lift and reposition you. This can reduce friction and shearing.
  • Using support surfaces. Use a mattress, bed and special cushions that help you lie in an appropriate position, relieve pressure on any sores and protect vulnerable skin. If you are in a wheelchair, use a cushion. Styles include foam, air filled and water filled. Select one that suits your condition, body type and mobility.


Cleaning and Dressing Bed Sore Wounds


Care that helps with healing of the wound includes the following:


Cleaning. It’s essential to keep wounds clean to prevent infection. If the affected skin is not broken (a stage I wound), gently wash it with water and mild soap and pat dry. Clean open sores with a saltwater (saline) solution each time the dressing is changed.


Applying dressings. A dressing promotes healing by keeping a wound moist, creating a barrier against infection and keeping the surrounding skin dry. Dressing choices include films, gauzes, gels, foams and treated coverings. A combination of dressings may be used.


Your doctor selects a dressing based on a number of factors, such as the size and severity of the wound, the amount of discharge, and the ease of placing and removing the dressing.


Removing Damaged Bed Sore Tissue


To heal properly, wounds need to be free of damaged, dead or infected tissue. Removing this tissue (debridement) is accomplished with a number of methods, depending on the severity of the wound, your overall condition and the treatment goals.


  • Surgical debridement involves cutting away dead tissue.
  • Mechanical debridement loosens and removes wound debris. This may be done with a pressurized irrigation device, low-frequency mist ultrasound or specialized dressings.
  • Autolytic debridement enhances the body’s natural process of using enzymes to break down dead tissue. This method may be used on smaller, uninfected wounds and involves special dressings to keep the wound moist and clean.
  • Enzymatic debridement involves applying chemical enzymes and appropriate dressings to break down dead tissue.



Other interventions that may be used are:


  • Pain management. Pressure ulcers can be painful. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others) — may reduce pain. These may be very helpful before or after repositioning, debridement procedures and dressing changes. Topical pain medications also may be used during debridement and dressing changes.
  • Antibiotics. Infected pressure sores that aren’t responding to other interventions may be treated with topical or oral antibiotics.
  • A healthy diet. To promote wound healing, your doctor or dietitian may recommend an increase in calories and fluids, a high-protein diet, and an increase in foods rich in vitamins and minerals. You may be advised to take dietary supplements, such as vitamin C and zinc.
  • Management of incontinence. Urinary or bowel incontinence may cause excess moisture and bacteria on the skin, increasing the risk of infection. Managing incontinence may help improve healing. Strategies include frequently scheduled help with urinating, frequent diaper changes, protective lotions on healthy skin, and urinary catheters or rectal tubes.
  • Muscle spasm relief. Spasm-related friction or shearing can cause or worsen bedsores. Muscle relaxants — such as diazepam (Valium), tizanidine (Zanaflex), dantrolene (Dantrium) and baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal) — may inhibit muscle spasms and help sores heal.
  • Negative pressure therapy (vacuum-assisted closure, or VAC). This therapy uses a device that applies suction to a clean wound. It may help healing in some types of pressure sores.


Surgery for Bed Sores and Pressure Sores


A pressure sore that fails to heal may require surgery. The goals of surgery include improving the hygiene and appearance of the sore, preventing or treating infection, reducing fluid loss through the wound, and lowering the risk of cancer.


If you need surgery, the type of procedure depends mainly on the location of the wound and whether it has scar tissue from a previous operation. In general, most pressure sores are repaired using a pad of your muscle, skin or other tissue to cover the wound and cushion the affected bone (flap reconstruction).



Preventing Bed Sores at Home




  • Look at the person’s skin daily. Tell the health care team about any changes you notice, such as red areas. These are the first signs of skin breakdown, and will lead to sores if left untreated.
  • Clean skin daily.



Calmoseptine Ointment Tube 4 Oz (3 Pack)
Recommended: Calmoseptine Moisture Barrier Ointment helps to protect and heal skin irritations from incontinence, minor burns, scrapes, diaper rash or wound drainage; temporarily relieves discomfort and itching; and provides multipurpose moisture barrier. Contains calamine, zinc oxide, menthol and lanolin.
  • Use mild cleansing products.
  • Avoid using hot water to clean the skin.
  • Use moisturizers for dry skin.
  • Check to make sure clothing and bed linens are clean, dry and free of wrinkles. Wrinkles increase friction and may lead to skin discomfort or pain.


Bedsore Pressure Reduction


  • Relieve any constant pressure on areas at greatest risk for skin breakdown. These include the site of existing pressure sores, the site of previously healed sores, scars, and bony areas.


  • If the person is in bed, remind, or help, the person to change position every two hours.


  • If the person is in a chair or wheelchair, remind, or help, the person to change position every hour. If possible, help the person stand briefly, or alternate between sitting and lying. It is best if the person avoids sitting for long periods.

Positioning Wedge



  • Use pillows like this repositioning wedge between legs, under arms or elsewhere. This separates bony areas, prevents direct skin-on-skin contact, and may make swollen legs and ankles feel better.






The Med Aire Alternating Pressure Pump and Pad System with Low Air Loss by Drive Medical provides alternating pressure and is designed to be used in the prevention, treatment and management of Pressure Ulcers.



  • Have the person avoid lying directly on the side, that is, with the front of the body facing sideways, at right angles to the mattress. A better position is to lie slightly sideways, that is, using supporting pillows to help the front of the body tilt about thirty degrees to the mattress.


  • Avoid using air rings or other donut-shaped cushioning devices.


  • Ask your local home care or palliative care program if they have a loan program for pressure-reducing mattresses.

How to Move Someone in Bed



Some people may find it uncomfortable to be moved, but staying in the same position for more than a couple of hours may lead to even greater pain or discomfort.


Changing positions is important, except in cases when someone may not live more than a few hours. These are some general tips for moving someone in bed.


If possible, watch a member of the care team do a move, so you can see how it is done.


If the person finds it painful to be moved, talk to the health care team about giving the person pain medication beforehand. They can tell you the best type of medication to use for this purpose, and explain how and when to give it.


Moving someone from one position to another is easier with two people, with each standing on opposite sides of the bed.


Take care to keep your knees slightly bent (not locked) when you do any sort of lifting. This gives your back proper support.


When moving a person, lift the person off the surface below, rather than dragging the person in direct contact with the surface.


Moving someone is much easier if the person is lying on a turning sheet or a cloth absorbent pad.


Turning sheets are small sheets that run from the person’s head to buttocks.


Any sheet can be made into a turning sheet by folding it in half and laying it over the full sheet. The sheet or pad allows two people to grab onto the corners to lift or move the person on the bed.


Recommended: SafetySure MovEase Under Pad

 SafetySure MovEase Under Pad


After the move, pull on the sheet or pad from top to bottom, to smooth out wrinkles.


Before starting a move, lower the bed to a flat position, or recline the bed as far as the person’s condition allows. Lower the bed slowly, as rapid movements can cause discomfort.



Moving Someone From Their Back Onto Their Side


Place a pillow under the person’s head before starting the turn and have pillows ready to place under legs, arms, and behind the back.


If the person is going to be turned onto the right side, take the left arm, bend it gently at the elbow, and place it over the stomach.


Bend the left leg at the knee, and place a pillow between the person’s legs.


Place one hand behind the person’s buttocks and the other underneath the shoulder.


Roll the person in the direction of your helper, and have the helper hold the person in place.


Once the helper is holding the person, place your hands under the person’s buttocks to move the body back toward the center of the bed.


You may need to pull the right (bottom) shoulder forward if it looks uncomfortable. This places the person in more of a fetal position rather than lying completely straight.


Arrange the pillows comfortably between the person’s shoulder and head, and also between the legs. When you return the person onto their back later, place a pillow under the head and one under each shoulder, positioned to make the person as comfortable as possible.



Raising Someone in Bed With a Turning Sheet


People who are sitting up in bed will naturally slide down over time. Before you raise the person, lower the bed until it is flat, or as flat as the person’s condition allows.


If possible, ask the person to tuck their chin into their neck during the move, so their head is protected.


Take hold of a bottom and top of the turning sheet on your side, and have your helper do the same on the other side.


On a signal, such as the count of three, gently lift the person toward the head of in bed.


Once the bed is raised again to a comfortable position, you can place a pillow under the person’s knees to prevent slipping.



Raising Someone in Bed Without aTurning Sheet


Stand near the person’s shoulder, with your helper on the opposite side.


Look toward the head of the bed, and place one of your arms under the person’s shoulder closest to you.


Use your free arm to support yourself by leaning into the bed.


On a signal, such as the count of three, lift the person toward the head of bed.


If possible, ask the person to bend their knees and dig into the bed with their heels to help with the move.


Once the bed is raised again to a comfortable position, you can place a pillow under the person’s knees to prevent slipping.



Remember, it is much easier to prevent bedsores with proper care at home, than to treat a bedsore once it has developed. 



Watch for signs of pressure points and reduce pressure with regular turning and moving, and examine the skin for signs of pressure.



If you have had experience dealing with bedsores, please share your thoughts below.


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Painkiller Induced Constipation



Help For Painkiller Induced Constipation – OIC




Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause constipation.


Examples include:

  • Antacids.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Some blood pressure medicines.
  • Cold medicines (antihistamines).
  • Calcium and iron supplements.
  • Narcotic pain medicines.


If you think that the constipation is caused by a medicine:

  • For prescription medicines, call the doctor who prescribed it to see whether you or your child should stop taking the medicine or take a different one. An appointment may not be needed.
  • For nonprescription medicines, stop using the medicine. Call your doctor if you feel that you or your child still needs to take the medicine.


Opioid (Painkiller) Induced Constipation




What are Opioids?


Opioids are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed for their analgesic, or pain-killing, properties. They include substances such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and methadone. Opioids may be more easily recognized by drug names such as Kadian, Avinza, OxyContin, Percodan, Darvon, Demerol, Vicodin, Percocet, and Lomotil.


Opioids may be classified as natural, semi-synthetic, fully synthetic, or endogenous. Natural opioids such as codeine and morphine are derived from opiate alkaloids contained in the resin of the opium poppy. Semi-synthetic opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are created by chemically altering the natural opioids. Fully synthetic opioids such as methadone are synthesized from non-opioid substances in laboratories. Endogenous opioids are naturally produced by the body and include substances such as endorphins.



How Do Opioids Work?



Opioids bind to specific proteins called opioid receptors that are located in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. Through this mechanism, opioids are able to block the brain’s ability to perceive pain. Instead, opioids tend to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain, inducing euphoria.



When Are Opioids Used?


Opioids are used in medicine because they can block the perception of pain. Patients receiving palliative care frequently report pain as one of the most distressing factors as they approach the end of life. About 70% of patients with advanced cancer and 65% of patients dying from other non-malignant diseases commonly complain of pain. Opioid-based medicines are prescribed to these patients to reduce their pain and increase their quality of life. The vast majority of patients receiving long-term opioid pain medication are in advanced stages of their disease.



What are the Side Effects of Opioids?



Opioid use carries several side effects. These include drowsiness, nausea, slower breathing, and a general depression of the respiratory system. Further, opioids often cause constipation, or opioid-induced constipation (OIC). OIC is an uncomfortable side-effect that occurs in many patients who receive opioid treatments to relieve pain.



How Do Opioids Cause Constipation?




Opioids are effective pain relievers, but often have the side effect of constipation. These medicines affect the gastrointestinal tract in a variety of ways. Opioids increase the amount of time it takes stool to move through the gastric system. They increase nonpropulsive contractions in the middle of the small intestine (jejunum) and decrease longitudinal propulsive peristalsis – motions critical to moving food through the intestines. This results in food that fails to travel through the digestive tract.




Opioids are also able to partially paralyze the stomach (gastroparesis) so that food remains in the digestive organ for a longer period of time. Additionally opioids reduce digestive secretions and decrease the urge to defecate.



Symptoms of OIC



Several physical and other symptoms are prevalent in sufferers of opioid-induced constipation (OIC). Physicians usually will gather patient history information to check for standard problems associated with constipation such as too little fiber and fluid intake, too little exercise, underlying medical problems, and current medications. Be prepared for a physical assessment that requires oral, abdominal, and digital anorectal examinations.


Common physical symptoms of OIC include:


  • Stools that are hard and dry
  • Difficulty such as straining, forcing, and pain when defecating
  • A constant feeling that you need to use the toilet
  • Bloating, distention, or bulges in the abdomen
  • Abdominal tenderness


Other symptoms of OIC include:


  • Feeling and being sick
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Feeling depressed


Treatment Options for OIC


Although opioids are very effective for treating and managing pain, their use frequently results in opioid-induced constipation (OIC). Treatment options for OIC may be as simple as changing diet or as complicated as requiring several medicines and laxatives.


Lifestyle Changes

Changing lifestyle factors is usually the first recommendation that physicians make for the prevention or treatment of constipation. This includes:



Equate - Fiber Powder, Clear Soluble, 125 Servings, 16.7 oz (Compare to Benefiber)
  • Increasing dietary fiber


  • Increasing fluid intake
  • Increasing exercise or physical activity
  • Increasing time and privacy for toileting



Cure Constipation Now


Changes in lifestyle, however, may not be possible for many patients. In addition, these changes may be ineffective in treating OIC.


If there is a concurrent underlying disease or medicine that is causing constipation, the disease may need to be treated separately or another treatment regimen may have to be considered.

Drugs and Medications to Treat OIC


OIC treatment usually requires additional medicines to be prescribed along with the opioid painkillers that are causing the constipation. Withholding the opioid treatment is ill-advised because it results in a decrease in the patient’s quality of life. Often, laxatives and/or cathartics are prescribed at the same time as the opioid painkillers so that treatment for the constipation beings immediately. A cathartic accelerates defecation, while a laxative eases defecation, usually by softening the stool; some medicines are considered to be both laxatives and cathartics.


For the treatment of OIC, doctors may prescribe:


Osmotic laxatives – increase the amount of water in the gut, increasing bulk and softening stools.

Recommended: ClearLax Osmotic Laxative


GoodSense Clearlax, Polyethylene Glycol, Osmotic Laxative 3350 Powder for Solution, 17.9 Ounce
  • Emollient or lubricant cathartics – soften and lubricate stools.


Recommended: Phillips’ Stool Softener


Phillips' Stool Softener Liquid Gels, 60-Count
  • Bulk cathartics – increase bulk and soften stools.
  • Stimulant cathartics – directly counteract the effect of the opioid medications by increasing intestinal motility, helping the gut to push the stools along.


Recommended: Ex-Lax Stimulant Laxative

Ex-Lax Stimulant Laxative, Maximum Strength, 25 mg, 90 Count Box


  • Prostaglandins or prokinetic drugs – change the way the intestines absorb water and electrolytes, and they increase the weight and frequency of stools while reducing transit time.
  • Other medicines block the effects of opioids on the bowel to reverse opioid-induced constipation.


Although the treatments listed above are usually successful in treating OIC, sometimes a physician will recommend rectal intervention. As discussed, prophylaxis with laxatives are/or cathartics is considered usual – as some clinicians assume [constipation] to be virtually universal in patients who are prescribed opioid analgesics.


Rectal interventions are indicated if the appropriate oral measures have been ineffective.


Rectal intervention means the following treatments:


  • Suppositories


Recommended: Dulcolax Medicated Laxative Suppositories


Dulcolax Laxative Suppositories, 28 Count


  • Enemas (micro and larger volume)



Enema Bag Kit

Superior Enema Bag Kit | 2 quart Fountain (Open) top | 28-page Instruction Manual | Silicone Hose with Robust Metal Suspension - Blue
  • Rectal irrigation (sometimes known as colonic irrigation)
  • Manual evacuation


The first choice rectal intervention for uncomplicated constipation is glycerine suppositories.


Fleet Glycerin Suppositories 24 CT

Fleet Glycerin Suppositories Laxative


If these are ineffective, then a stimulant enema might be administered. Oral and rectal stimulant laxatives should be avoided if there is possible or proven bowel obstruction.


Gentle rectal measures can sometimes be effective in emptying the rectum and lower colon. Oral softening agents are useful if the obstruction is incomplete. It should be remembered that constipation can cause bowel obstruction.


If none of the rectal laxatives above prove adequate to remove impacted feces, rectal irrigation with normal saline can be performed. Manual evacuation should be used as a last resort when all other methods of bowel management have been shown to be ineffective.


Combination Therapy Treatment for OIC


Constipation is a known side effect of opioid analgesics and should be addressed before opioid therapy begins. As opioid-induced constipation can be severe and adversely impact quality of life and compliance with therapy, prophylaxis with laxatives is considered to be the best approach.


Concurrent management on initiation of opioids frequently includes recommending certain lifestyle or dietary adjustments (as listed above) and initiating a scheduled regimen of laxatives. Laxative and cathartic therapy may be needed throughout opioid therapy and beyond. Effective management requires a composite of strategies, including behavioral and lifestyle changes (diet, activity, and fluid intake, as appropriate).


However medications used to manage opioid-induced constipation, such as laxatives, do not address the underlying opioid receptor-mediated cause of constipation and are often ineffective.


Newer Therapies for OIC


Methylnaltrexone (available as Relistor(R)) helps restore bowel function in patients who have advanced illness and receive opioids for pain relief. Methylnaltrexone is delivered via subcutaneous injection and specifically targets opioid-induced constipation. When given alongside opioid therapy, it is designed to displace the opioid from binding to peripheral receptors in the gut, decreasing the opioid’s constipating effects and inducing laxation.


Methylnaltrexone is a peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonist that decreases the constipating effects of opioid pain medications in the gastrointestinal tract without diminishing their ability to relieve pain.


Methylnaltrexone blocks peripheral opioid receptors in the gut and unlike other opioid antagonists has restricted ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. As a result, it antagonizes only the peripherally located opioid receptors in the GI tract, so it’s action reverses opioid-induced constipation without precipitating withdrawal symptoms or affecting or reversing the central analgesic effects of opioids.


Another new medication for severe pain (long-term pain that can be experienced as a result of conditions such as back pain, arthritis and osteoarthritis) are tablets combining prolonged release oxycodone, an opioid which treats pain, and prolonged release naloxone, a compound which counteracts the potential negative effects of the opioid on the GI function (available as TarginactTM).



TarginactTM has been proven to provide equivalent pain relief to oxycodone alone, whilst significantly improving bowel function. Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that, when taken orally, has negligible systemic bioavailability providing a full inhibitory effect on local opioid receptors in the gut – counteracting opioid-induced constipation – without impacting on the centrally acting analgesic efficacy of oxycodone.



If someone you care for is experiencing opioid induced constipation, start on the lifestyle changes in this article and speak to your doctor about other treatment options.  This is a condition that can be managed.


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About Me

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Make A Living Will Today

What is a Living Will or Healthcare Directive

And  Do You Need One?


Prepare for unforeseen circumstances to save yourself and your family needless pain.

We have all heard stories of people who, because of a terrible accident or illness, become unable to make health care decisions for themselves. It may happen gradually, when someone develops dementia, for example. If he or she did not previously designate another person to do so, the matter can end up in the courts.

Having a health care power of attorney  is the best way to make sure that your wishes are followed and that you receive the level of care you choose.

In this video by Milwaukee Public Television, attorney Betsy Abramson, deputy director of the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging, offers pointers on how you can put your mind at ease by filling out the vital paperwork.


Living Will states your wishes regarding life support in the event that you cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes yourself. Your Living Will only comes into effect if you are in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma and can no longer make and communicate your own wishes. A Living Will spares your family the anguish of making life-support decisions without your input. A Living Will also ensures that your doctor understands your end-of-life wishes and treats you accordingly.

Living Wills can be very specific or very general. Living Wills that are too general may not provide sufficient direction and serve only to create confusion and conflict between medical personnel, your health care agent, and your loved ones. More specific Living Wills are preferred. These are shown to be most successful when they include informed, thoughtful reflection on your wishes and values supported by personal communication between you and your health care agent before a medical crisis occurs.

Recently, Living Wills have moved away from focusing on specific treatments and medical procedures to focus on patient values, personal goals, and health outcome states. For example, a Living Will might: designate an agent to make care decisions; dictate what kind of life support treatment that patient does or does not want; discuss pain management, personal grooming and bathing instructions; address how the patient wants to be treated, including religious, spiritual, and emotional support; and detail funeral or memorial plans.

Choosing an Agent for Your Living Will

When you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself, the power to make life-support decisions for you is transferred to the person you designate as your agent in your Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney. 

This person must act according to the directives set out in that document. The person that you designate as your agent should be someone you know and trust. Some states refer to the agent as an “attorney-in-fact,” “health care agent,” “health care proxy,” “health care representative,” “patient advocate,” “proxy” or “surrogate.”

The statutes of most states require that your agent be an adult. In addition, under most circumstances, your agent cannot be your health care provider (for example, a physician, nurse, employee, officer, director, or operator of a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or residential care facility) unless that person is related to you. In selecting an agent for your Living Will, you should not designate a person who is, or may become, directly involved in providing health care to you unless that person is your spouse or a family member.

Make sure your agent is willing to assume responsibility for your medical decision making. If she agrees to be your proxy, talk with her about your values, beliefs and desires. Good health care agents are able to separate their own feelings from yours and your wishes, but may feel guilt and anguish at having to make such difficult end-of-life decisions. Communicating early and often with your agent can help ensure that both you and your agent are comfortable and at peace with your life-support wishes.

Choose just one person to serve as your agent at a given time to avoid conflicts. But choose an alternate agent in case the primary agent is not available. Once you have selected an agent, make sure they get a copy of your Living Will, and tell your family and physician whom you’ve selected.

Many individuals give their health care agents broad authority to override their written Living Will. Other individuals give the written Living Will priority. Make sure to articulate which instruction to follow when there is a conflict between your agent and your Living Will.


Summary For Americans:

Create your US Citizen Living Will today.  Call your lawyer or prepare one simply and inexpensively yourself online at Law Depot.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will lets you specify your choices for medical treatment. A Living Will documents your preferences for the time when you are no longer able to communicate or provide consent.

What is a Medical Power of Attorney?

A Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone (your Agent) to make health care decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so.

What are my rights?

If you have a Living Will, the decisions made by your Agent will be constrained by that document. The Medical Power of Attorney is useful for those issues that are not covered by your Living Will. In those cases, your Agent can ensure the intent of your wishes are followed.

The U.S. Constitution allows people to determine the kind of health care they will receive. However, many states limit the types of health care decisions that can be made, and the instructions that you provide below may go beyond what is allowed in your state. This will not invalidate your instructions, but your health care providers may be limited to what is legally permitted.


Summary For Canadians:!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_960/image.jpg

Create your Canadian Citizen Living Will today.  Call your lawyer, or prepare one inexpensively yourself online at Law Depot.

What is a Representation Agreement?

A Personal Directive or Living Will allows you to designate someone who will make health care and personal care decisions for you when you are not able and also to provide instructions for future care while you are still capable of making decisions for yourself.  A Personal Directive provides an opportunity for you to discuss treatment options with your medical staff as well as to discuss and resolve difficult issues with your family and friends.  Your directive must be made while you are still capable of giving consent.  Note that a Personal Directive is also called a Living Will, Advance Directive, Health Care Directive, or Power of Attorney for personal care.

Every adult who is 19 years of age or older is presumed to be capable of making, changing or revoking a representation agreement, and making decisions about personal care, health care and legal matters and about the adult’s financial affairs, business and assets.In addition the following will apply:

  • You must be mentally competent.
  • You must be fully informed of your treatment options for all possible medical outcomes.
  • You should not be unduly influenced by anyone else during your decision making process.

Who can write a Heath Care Directive?

Every adult who is 19 years of age or older is presumed to be capable of making, changing or revoking a representation agreement, and making decisions about personal care, health care and legal matters and about the adult’s financial affairs, business and assets.In addition the following will apply:

  • You must be mentally competent.
  • You must be fully informed of your treatment options for all possible medical outcomes.
  • You should not be unduly influenced by anyone else during your decision making process.

Other Countries:

Create your  UK Living Will Today.

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Packing for a Hospital Stay

What to pack when you are going to stay at the hospital largely depends on how long you will have to be there. It’s obvious that a one night stay will require less packing then being hospitalized for a week or longer.

What’s less clear is that people often pack too much not realizing they will be ‘out of it’ afterwards.  The surgery, anesthesia and post-op medication may make you so sleepy, tired and unaware of what’s going on around you that you will not need most things you packed.


On the other hand, when it comes to personal hygiene and comfort,  little things can make a big difference. For longer stays, also things to keep you busy and entertained matter. Things my mom had that made a difference for her were her own pillow and blanket, and her personal grooming supplies.  She also had her slippers from home (the crappy ones I talked about in this post.) It would have been nice for her to have a gown and robe from home as well.

She was not able to concentrate much, so Mom did not read, do puzzles or use her ipad.  Liver cirrhosis patients suffer from encephalopathy, a form of confusion caused by ammonia buildup in the brain.  If she had been her usual self, she definitely would have wanted items to keep her mentally busy.

If you are helping prepare someone to be admitted to the hospital,

here are some things of things you may want to include in their travel bag:



  • Picture ID card
  • Recent x-rays, MRIs, or other scan you have had done
  • Medical insurance documentation including your health insurance cards or Medicare and/or Medicaid cards
  • Documents requiring your doctor’s signature
  • Important phone numbers
  • Copy of power of attorney, living will and/or advance directive (if applicable)
  • Other preoperative documents (some hospitals keep these on file, others have patients keep these)

Tip: put all these essentials together in one folder that can be closed securely with a tie or snap closure to avoid the risk of losing these documents.



  • Prescription and non-prescription meds – in original containers
  • Your hospital may ask you to bring a list with name and dosage of all your current medications including prescribed, herbal, and over the counter drugs.


Recovery Aids

Depending on the type of surgery you will get you may need post surgery aids or devices, such as crutches, braces, a walker or wheelchair. Often some of these are provided by the hospital or recovery clinic. Sometimes people decide it’s beneficial for them to get their own aids up front. Hit the link for an overview.

  • Any crutches, braces, or other post-surgery aids.



Soap and shampoo are provided by the hospital but it can be nice to bring your own . Just by having a little bit of your own trusted products with their familiar scents can make you feel more comfortable.

Tip: pack the things you will use most in one toiletry bag and place it on your tray table so it’s always within easy reach.

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
  • Dental floss
  • Shampoo,
  • Conditioner, leave-in hair conditioner
  • Body wash, face wash
  • Bar soap
  • Moisturizer/ lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products (tampons, pads, etc)
  • Razors, shaving lubricant
  • Toilet paper – often better than what’s available at the hospital
  • Powder, foot powder
  • Tissues
  • Sanitary pads
  • Makeup – if you are feeling a bit more energetic you may feel like showering and putting makeup on to get ready for visitors
  • Nail clippers


Personal Care Items

Here are the most basic needs when it comes to personal care.

  • Hair ties, clips and barrettes
  • Hair brush and comb
  • Lip balm – the air is often very dry in hospitals so packing a lip balm will be a must for many women
  • Mirror – in case you are still bedridden but want to check yourself for visitors or that hot doctor
  • Saline nasal spray – a dry nose may not only irritate but some people tend to get sick as a result
  • Throat lozenges – another great throat soother.
  • Antiseptic wipes – besides asking physicians and nurses to wash their hands another way of being proactive is wiping down surfaces such as the telephone and the TV remote control.



If you have stayed overnight in a hospital before you probably know that hospital gowns aren’t the most comfortable garments. Packing some of your own comfortable clothing will help you get through. Items that you may want to pack include:

  • Gown – hospital style

Womens Hospital Gowns Soft Cotton Knit Adaptive Pattern - Open Back - Back Snap Night Gown Men’s Tie Flannel Adaptive Hospital Gown

You can find these hospital gowns (which open at the back) at Silvert’s Adaptive Clothing and Footwear.

  • Comfortable clothing such as sweat pants, comfy bra, loose shirts
  • T-shirt
  • Bathrobe or shawl

Womens Bed Jacket Cape - Bed Fleece Shawl - Ladies Bed Jackets For Hospitals Womens Cozy Lap Robes Wrap Fleece Shawl Cape - Warm Poncho

Available at at Silvert’s Adaptive Clothing and Footwear.

  • Fresh change of clothes / clean underwear
  • Slippers for showering or when putting on shoes is difficult or impossible

Womens VELCRO® Extra Wide Shoes Sandals Or Slippers Open Toed Indoor Outdoor With VELCRO® Brand Straps Mens House Slippers Memory Foam Slippers For Men - Mens Wide Slippers - Extra Wide Bedroom Slippers Diabetic Socks - Anti Slip Grip Socks For Women & Men - Sure Steps By Simcan - Skid Socks - Mid Calf Crew Socks

Available at at Silvert’s Adaptive Clothing and Footwear.

  • Comfortable shoes that are easy to put on
  • Socks with grips


Getting Around

When you are able to get up and walk around you will be glad to have packed the following items:

  • Cash and change – bring a small amount of cash which will allow you to purchase snacks, a newspaper or other things from the vending machine or hospital restaurant.
  • Slippers / Crocs – for walking the halls

Adjustable Ezi Fit Slipper For Women Womens / Mens Hospital Patient Slipper - Swollen Feet

  • A cap or hat – for walking the halls without having to fix your hair



  • Earplugs/eyeshades – sleeping well and taking naps contribute greatly to your recovery. Hospital lights and sounds may bother you so bringing something to cover your eyes and plug your ears during rest or sleep will help reduce stress and improve resting time.
  • Relaxation Tools – a hot pack ( e.g. home made, a sock filled with beans or rice) can bring you instant pain or discomfort relief – you can easily warm it up in the hospital’s microwave. Other suggestions include: back massager, stress reliever squeeze ball, soothing sounds or music on iPod or CD, aromatherapy candles/oils (in case you are in a single room), massage oil or lotion.
  • Warm socks to wear under the non-skid socks provided by the hospital
  • Your own pillow, blanket or a stuffed animal can give you a soothing feeling in an environment of sickness, sterility and grief.
  • Photos of beloved ones. Surgery and the recovery process afterwards with all its physical and emotional strains can be very demanding. Looking at a photo of your spouse or children may comfort you at the harder moments.
  • Your own favorite snack. We all know that food comforts. Bring some crackers, beef jerky, liquorice, granola bars, fresh fruit, crackers, instant soup or whatever you fancy. Many hospitals will allow you to use their fridge to keep fruit chilled and have a microwave available to warm up food.
  • A white-noise machine in your room can help draw out the common noise in hospitals. Telemetry alarms, doors, telephones, and staff voices are much less of a nuisance with the help of such a device thus providing you with the rest you need so much right now.



Hospital stays can be pretty boring especially if you are confined to bed all day long. Some entertainment to pass time and keep your mind off of your condition and recovery can be of huge importance.

  • Books or magazines
  • Sudoku or crossword puzzles
  • Chess or checkers board and pieces
  • Cell phone
  • iPod, CD player or radio
  • Portable DVD player
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Something to write in, such as a diary or journal
  • Knitting or crochet necessities
  • Glasses if you wear them

Many hospitals ban the use of cell phones, laptops and other electronics. Cell phone use in particular is often prohibited since it may interfere with electronic patient monitoring equipment.

Check the hospital’s policy about electronic items before you pack your bag. Bringing a prepaid phone card will help you stay in close contact with family members and friends during your hospital stay.


Nutrition Supplements

Chances are you have consulted your medical team about the non-prescription supplements you have been taking. You probably know which vitamins and minerals you are allowed to take after the surgery. Packing these can give your recovery a head start.

  • a multi vitamin and mineral supplement
  • Probiotics – known to promote healing, reduce the harsh side effects of antibiotics, and diminish chances on hospital acquired infections (HAI).


Leave at Home

Most hospitals will let you know during the admission process that they are not responsible for loss or theft of personal belongings throughout your hospitalization. Therefore it is recommended to leave valuable items at home.

  • expensive watches
  • expensive sunglasses
  • credit cards
  • jewelry
  • other valuables

Please share your suggestions on what to add to this list in the comments sections below.

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