Hospital Emergencies: Tips for Family Caregivers

Medical emergencies happen to people of all ages but they can often be more frequent in the elderly as seniors are often more prone to accidents and illness. Family caregivers should know how to handle hospitalizations of their loved ones so that they will be prepared if an emergency occurs.

The first thing that family caregivers should do is be prepared for an emergency before one occurs. Many people, family caregivers included, do not think to prepare for an emergency until one happens. When an emergency strikes family caregivers should make sure that they are prepared because it is too late to prepare when the emergency has already occurred. In many cases serious emergencies can be life threatening if not handled immediately so family caregivers should make sure that they know how to respond to any emergency situation that they might encounter.

Those that are caring for a loved one with a specific illness should be aware of any potential complications that their loved one might experience since specific illnesses might require family caregivers to need more emergency preparation. Those that are caring for a loved one that does not have any serious illnesses should make sure that they know how to handle more common issues such as broken bones, chest pains or the need for CPR. Seniors are more prone to falls and because of their decreased bone mass they are also more likely to experience broken bones as a result of a fall. In the event of a broken bone family caregivers should try to move their loved ones as little as possible to avoid further injury and should ask another family member or a trained professional for help before attempting to move them if they have broken a hip or leg and are unable to walk. Other broken bones such as an arm or wrist will be easier to manage and family caregivers can assist their loved ones by wrapping the arm in something to keep it still on the way to the hospital. Chest pains are also very common for many seniors and can be potentially life threatening as they can lead to a heart attack or other serious condition. Family caregivers should know what signs to look for such as shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness and sweating and should call emergency services immediately if their loved one experiences any of these symptoms. It is also helpful for family caregivers to know how to perform CPR. Their loved one might not ever need it but it is important for family caregivers to be prepared just in case their loved one ever stops breathing. Lack of oxygen can cause brain damage very quickly so family caregivers should start CPR right away if their loved one is not breathing on their own and should not wait for emergency services to arrive and start.

While seniors are in the hospital it is important for family caregivers to know what to do and how to follow up when their loved one leaves the hospital. Family caregivers should speak with their loved one’s doctors as much as possible so that they know what is going on and how their loved one is being treated. When they leave the hospital it is important for family caregivers to make sure that their loved one completes any required follow up visits and gives their regular doctor an update. Many people decide that they are fine after being released from the hospital and decide to skip their follow up visits but family caregivers should make sure that their loved ones do not do this as this can lead to further emergencies in the future. Family caregivers should also have their loved ones visit their regular doctor after being hospitalized so that they can follow up with them and ask for any additional information or recommendations that their doctor might have that can help prevent emergencies in the future.

Following these tips is a good way for family caregivers to be prepared in the event of a hospital emergency. Family caregivers should always make sure that they are prepared beforehand and should not wait until it is too late and put their loved one in further danger. Family caregivers should also make sure that their loved ones correctly follow all of the advice of their doctor after being hospitalized even if their loved one insists that they are fine and do not need to just to be on the safe side. It is always better for family caregivers to be over cautious and over prepared than to be under prepared and put their loved ones at risk in the event of an emergency.

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