Care Insights & Ideas

Transitioning a Loved One Home from the Hospital

Heading home with Alzheimer’s or other dementia? The transition from the hospital to home might be even harder than usual—for both of you. Ask for five things to help ease the stress.

Caring for your loved one with dementia is demanding even on the best days. But when they wind up in the hospital, your caregiver demands increase dramatically. You may have to stay in the hospital too—providing comfort, taking notes, answering nurses’ questions, correcting your loved one’s statements (“No, I didn’t fall.”), and staying calm while doctors poke and prod. You may even need to thwart hospital escape attempts.

Hospitalization takes a toll on both of you.

It’s common for people with dementia to have setbacks after being in the hospital. Don’t be alarmed if your loved one seems more confused than before. Staying in any new setting—even a hotel or a relative’s home—can set them back cognitively.

Even though it’s a relief to get back home, you’re likely drained and exhausted. But caregiving continues, so be prepared to accept all the help you can get.

Say yes to less stress.

When people ask what they can do, tell them! And be specific. Offload simple tasks and give friends tangible ways to help. For example:

  • Sleep - Ask a friend to come over while you take a nap. If you’re taking care of someone who’s likely to keep you awake at home, switch houses and nap at your friend’s place.
  • Fuel - Let people drop off meals. Sure, you can throw together dinner yourself, but you’ve got so much else to do. Accept the simple gift of a home-cooked meal (or takeout delivery). Also, check out convenient meal services that deliver fresh food right to your door.
  • Errands - Ask neighbors to let you know when they’re going to the grocery store so they can grab what you need. Be specific: “Would you pick me up a gallon of 2% milk, 3 ripe bananas, and a jar of organic peanut butter?” Then cross that off your to-do list.
  • Downtime - Let others give you respite from being a caregiver. Even a few hours away will recharge your batteries. Not sure what you’d do with the time? Take a walk in nature, meet a friend for lunch, get a massage, have coffee with your grandson. Do anything that fills your tank.
  • Routine tasks - Ask a neighbor to take your trash cans out to the curb. It's one less thing you have to remember to do each week. And even getting to the curb can be a challenge when your loved one has dementia.

Care team, assemble!

Be sure to share your detailed notes about what happened in the hospital with all your secondary caregivers. To be able to support you, your extended care team will need to know exactly what’s going on. And don’t forget to reach out to others who have come before you. People who’ve cared for someone with dementia are often the most compassionate listeners. Connecting with others who understand can soothe the soul.

Honor Home Care provides exceptionally reliable non-medical professional caregivers for older adults—and full transparency into the care experience so family members can easily manage care and stay informed. Learn more.