Have you left a family member in the hospital and gone home worrying, or stayed late or through the night just to be sure they were not crying out alone and unheard?
Why do you need more care than that? What if your elderly parent fell? It takes time for a nurse or nursing assistant to get to the room. What if your elderly relative can’t communicate clearly enough to identify the problem?
There are some nurses who are just so sensitive and wonderful that they instinctively guess right, feel a patient’s needs, and proactively set things out in the right place to avoid mishaps. Not every nurse can be that perfect every day with every patient. Nurses are human and often tending to emergencies for several people at once.
If it is not a matter of vital signs, or doses of medication, the simpler needs may not fit into the nursing schedule. Here is a list of some of these:
• something is pinching and he rolled over on the catheter tube and can’t flip back
• she took her dentures out and left them on the food tray, never to see them again
• he headed for the bathroom and forgot he had an IV cord attached
• she has the sun setting in her eyes and needs help with the window blinds
• he forgot where the buzzer was and is pushing on the television remote instead
You can see these situations as humorous, but honestly if you were in pain and stuck in a bed and unable to get up and do for yourself, would these things bother you? Of course they would. It is the difference between basic minimum care and the quality of life that helps you begin to feel better.
Let’s go over this one “sense” at a time:
• listening – they can hear breathing changes, whispered needs, machines beeping, liquids dripping
• smelling — you know what there is to smell, right?
• seeing — the expression on a face too proud or helpless to call the nurse
• talking — with kindness so your loved one hears a soft and caring tone
• just being — so she is not alone, so he does not feel abandoned
The same reason you want to be sitting there is the reason you want a sitter there when you aren’t. You can hire hospital sitters by the shift. If you preplan for a hospital sitter you have met and hired, that knows or has met your family member, then you can communicate all the sensitive issues and needs you wish and know someone with the big picture is there and able to really be your eyes and ears.
Isn’t it frustrating when you come every day at what you think is the right time and you just missed the doctor’s round because they changed schedule that day? If you have a sitter there who is aware of the issues and concerns you have, they can take notes in a journal for you, ask your questions for you and write the answers for you. You can really be in two places at once.
The sitter can’t do any of the medical caregiving tasks and must stay out of the way when procedures are happening, but the simpler tasks, the ones you would do, can be done while you work, during the night while you are home caring for children, for any shift. It is so much more than you might think. This is peace of mind.
Sitters warm hearts, not just seats. If we were robots, then a few tweaks and bangs, a can of oil and we’re good. We have hearts. We feel loneliness. We feel frightened. Only the warmth of a caring heart can console your loved one when you are not there. Plan for the next hospital visit to be a different and much happier experience for all of you.
Jaleh Neshat is the owner of “Homecare Assistance Raleigh NC” which provides senior care for families in the Raleigh, NC area. Their “Balanced Care Method TM” caregivers provide emotional, social, nutritional, and physical care.