Visiting hospital means lots of different things to different people. You could be excited about a knee operation that will mean you have no more pain when you walk.
Maybe you have cut your hand and just need it stitched up. Or perhaps you have had a loved one pass away and are feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Whatever your experience, it is common to experience interruptions to your regular routine, such as fatigue, a lack of privacy and the general discomfort of being out of home. It is, paradoxically, also a place where you receive constant care, one-on-one time with health professionals and have access to resources to help you recover as quickly as possible.
The key is to make the most out of the positives and minimise the negatives.
In this article, we will discover three opportunities to make your hospital stay both more comfortable and more productive.
1. Be prepared
If your time and situation allow, why not bring a few key items from home? This will help you maintain a steady routine and allow you to feel more relaxed. You might consider bringing the following:
- a colouring book or novel
- glasses or hearing aids if you use them
- a list of your medications
- phone numbers of important contacts
- a phone charger
- spare underwear
- a notepad and pen to write down any ideas, questions or concerns you have throughout your stay.
2. Stay active
During hospitalisation, sedentary behaviour (performing little physical exercise) is all too common.
Research shows that most hospitalised patients spend long periods resting in bed, regardless of their primary reason for admission. Long periods of inactivity can lead to weakness and fatigue in the body, impairment of independence, longer hospital stays and difficulty sleeping.
Sadly, older people have a harder time fully recovering from these effects compared with younger adults. Stay physically active daily and you will see improvements in:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle strength
- Mood and energy levels
- Recovery time
Once cleared by your medical team, consider these options for moving more in hospital:
- Spend more time in the armchair instead of in bed This puts your lungs in the best position to breathe and helps the muscles in your trunk stay strong.
- Walk in the corridor more often Use the corridors as a walking track to explore the ward and get moving to get home sooner. A recent study showed that sometimes fear of infection can prevent people from going out of their rooms. If this is a real concern, simply use a pair of gloves from your room and wash your hands regularly to reduce your anxiety and risk.
- Move your arms and legs more often Take advantage of seeing your partner, family or friends to give them a hug, wave hello, hold their hand or go for a walk together.
- Attend exercise classes when you can Some hospitals offer exercise classes, so take the chance to get out of bed and use some of that energy. This will not only strengthen your muscles, heart and lungs but enable you to have a better night’s rest when you return to your room. Don’t worry if you cannot make every class. Just aim to do two or three a week and it will go a long way towards your recovery. You may even make some new friends!
3. Ask questions
Finally, take this time to ask lots of questions. When else are you going to have access to so many health professionals at once?
Use this time to ask about upcoming procedures, tests and services or anything you are concerned or curious about. Often in hospital there is an individual called a ‘discharge planner’ or a ‘social worker’. These people are trained to help set you up with services at home to continue your care and ensure a quick recovery so you can get back to doing what you love.
Going to hospital can mean lots of different things to lots of different people, so make your trip more comfortable and productive by taking the opportunity to stay active, be prepared and ask lots of questions!
The Physio Co’s team of physiotherapists are available to visit you wherever you call home, and available for online consultations. We are here to help, so get in touch today for more information – please call on 1300 797 793 or email email@example.com
Article written by Emily Johnson (physiotherapist – Sydney)