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Thursday, April 18, 2024

How To Care For A Loved One In The ICU

Having a family member confined in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is the last thing anyone wants to go through. These signals fear, negative emotions, anxiety for the future, and even a clouded outlook for the patient. It’s normal to feel confused about how to show your loved one they’re well-loved and cared for, despite their situation. But how do you also balance that with going about your day-to-day life?

For most family members, life can’t stop, even with a loved one in the ICU. They have jobs waiting for them and children to care for—as in the case of young parents. It’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy, somehow, to help keep their mental health in check. All of this must be balanced with regular, thoughtful visits to the hospital, making sure they don’t miss out on being there, physically, for their loved one

This article will walk you through how best to care for a loved one in the ICU.

Connect With The Hospital, And Avail Of Their Support Services

If your loved one is in a good hospital like idahofallscommunityhospital.com, among others, many additional services will be available to the family for that better holistic care. You see, you’re not alone in this process. And the medical team isn’t, too.

Caring for a patient in the ICU is a challenge that demands the collective effort of the family, relatives, and hospital staff. It’s about connecting with the hospital team and fostering open communication between both ends. This way, you can collaborate in enhancing your loved one’s ICU experience.

Many hospitals offer support services for family members, so check on what’s available. Some have nearby housing, so you can rent an apartment closer to the hospital. Or you may also avail of a private caregiver when none of you or your family members can visit for the day.

It’ll take a massive load off your shoulders when you use the help available to you. Not only can you give the best care possible to your loved one, but you’re also doing your own health a favor. The last thing you’d want is to add up to the problem by falling ill yourself due to stress or lack of rest.

Be Positive

No matter how hard or challenging it may seem, it is important to maintain a positive mindset. Not all patients who stay in the ICU don’t make it out strong and well. Recovery from critical illness is now even more possible than many years back, all thanks to the advancements in modern medical technology

Staying positive is good for you, the hospital team caring for your loved one, and the patient. Maintaining a positive mindset makes it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even when the days are dark.

You can never tell how a specific day for your loved one in the ICU can be. One day can be better than others. So, it’s essential to have a healthy mind to carry on and keep going with love and support, especially when things may not be going too well.

As for the hospital team and medical staff caring for your loved one, remember, their job isn’t easy, too. There’s a lot on their plate, and they’re just as stressed and exhausted as you are, perhaps even more.

The last thing they need is a visitor or family member lashing out with negative vibes and attitudes toward them. 

They also need a lot of motivation to carry on with their daily routine. The positive outlook you have can be very contagious whenever you’re around to visit. That may just be the amount of positivity they need for the rest of the day.

Most importantly, be positive for your loved ones. They may not see you, but they know you’re there. The hearing abilities of a patient are often the last organ to fail, so your loved one can certainly hear you’re there.

It’s enough that they feel helpless about the state they’re in. Don’t be the bearer of negative words and emotions whenever you’re around. Instead, bring in smiles, positive thoughts, and encouragement more than flowers. 

Write Everything Down

You may be the best at remembering things, but the to-do list and reminders with a loved one in the ICU can get overwhelming. This is even truer if you’re not in the medical profession. When stress gets the best of you, remembering some of the crucial points the doctors and nurses tell you can even be more difficult.

Grab a notebook and dedicate that to your notes while your loved one is in the ICU. Write everything down. That way, you’re sure not to forget anything. By writing things down, you can take the time to absorb information. Therefore, you won’t be clouded by other emotions you may also be going through.

Writing down notes is also an effective way of actively working with your loved one’s medical team. If there’s anything they ask you to do, you remember to do it, so the next time you’re around the hospital, you can show positive cooperation.

Otherwise, it can hamper patient care when communication is also affected, all because you’ve forgotten a few bits and pieces of crucial information the doctors have informed you about.

Help Out Without Being Asked

Caring for a loved one in the ICU isn’t just about being there for them in the hospital. It’s also more about supporting them through their stay, ensuring that everything else in their life is covered and addressed.

For instance, your loved one in this situation is your brother, married with two children. Your sister-in-law has a lot on her plate now with your brother’s hospitalization and a stay at the ICU, no less, plus the children, chores, and bills to worry about.

To keep a sense of order in their household, your sister-in-law can use some help. You may not be directly caring for your brother in the hospital, but you’re caring for his family in his absence, and that’s still a lot of help they’ll be grateful about.

It doesn’t always have to be the big things or anything monetary. If you live nearby, perhaps you can volunteer to do the school runs so your sister-in-law has more time for chores and to head out to the hospital for the day.

Does their house look like a mess when you visit? Help with cleaning or mowing the lawn. Give your sister-in-law time for self-care, even if it means just an hour out with her friends, while you care for their children. She needs that, too. Help your sister-in-law with meal prepping so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking for the rest of the week.

These little things go a long way in creating a sense of order in their household. Your brother, who is in the ICU, will still be aware of all these when, through your sister-in-law’s visits to him, he feels and hears that she’s doing okay, all thanks to your help.

Look After Yourself

Between the hustle and bustle of going about life as usual and the new and gigantic responsibility of your loved one in the hospital, it’s easy to get lost and forget about yourself.

Because your loved one is undergoing quite an ordeal in the ICU, you may feel like you’ve also lost the right to enjoy or pamper yourself. It just doesn’t sound right when your loved one is currently suffering.

It’s normal to have those thoughts, but self-care isn’t selfish. And, if your loved one could speak, surely they’d tell you to take some time off, too. You can’t pour from an empty cup, even if you say it’s out of love, so recharge when you can.

Looking after yourself is one of the vital tips to keeping you the best version of yourself whenever your loved one is in the ICU. You don’t snap out of exhaustion or accidentally say things you may not actually mean.

Your patient will feel even more badly about themselves when they hear about how you’re suffering in the process or how you’re unable to do some things you used to love to do. Self-care is a must-do as long as you know it’s not getting in the way of prioritizing your loved one.

Make Your Loved One Feel Comfortable

While there’s not much you can do about the hospital equipment they have to use, or the hospital bed itself, you can add many little things to their room to make them feel more comfortable. Why not bring their favorite scent or diffuser from home if it’s allowed? You can also bring throws, their pillow, or even their blanket.

Is there a television in the room? Rather than leave the programs on to sad or discouraging news, play their favorite TV show instead. Better yet, put some music on. Read their favorite book or newspaper. Talk to your loved one about how the day was and how the other family members are doing.

This is what it’s like to be present and involved. You’re not just there in the ICU room with them, doing nothing. Talking to and telling them stories keep them updated with life so they don’t lose their memories.

Bringing in bits and pieces of the home makes them feel less cold in their hospital room. They may not be able to go home now, but you can bring your home to their ICU room.

Have Someone With You

If you’re not the best at regulating or hiding your emotions, it helps to have someone with you during those ICU visits. As much as possible, you’ll want to avoid crying or venting to the patient. No matter how negative the doctor’s news may be, at least wait until you’re out of the ICU to let your emotions out. The stronger you seem to your patient, the better it will be for their willpower to keep fighting.

Having someone with you gives you that hug and support you need when you need it and adds an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands. Having two individuals listen to the doctor’s words is better than just one and then getting it all wrong.

You write, and she listens. Then, you can both review what you’ve written based on her recollection of what they heard, too. This adds to a higher level of information accuracy, given how crucial every single piece of information or record is for a patient in the ICU.

Let The Medical Professionals Do Their Job

So, you’ve spent the past evening researching for more information about your loved one’s condition. You’ve gone through so many resources that now you feel like a doctor yourself, sans the years of study and degree.

You walk into the ICU the next day with newfound confidence to interfere with what the medical professionals are doing or offer advice or insights on how to go about things instead. This behavior is not advised.

Let the professionals do their job and don’t interfere. That one night you’ve spent researching on the internet can never compete with the medical teams’ years of study, examinations, and study to get them where they are now. They want to give your patient the best care and recovery possible, just as you do. 

Once you interfere or start giving out medical information yourself, your relationship with the medical team could get strained. This is because instead of trusting them, perhaps now you’d question their decision-making process or, worse, the treatment plan they give. 

You already have a lot of stressors on your hands right now. Leave the medical aspects to the health experts. You can focus on all other facets of care.

The Takeaway

Receiving that dreaded call that your loved one is sent to the ICU make you wonder, ‘What can I do to care for them?’ While you’ll want to be physically present 24/7, this isn’t always possible, given all the other responsibilities. Being physically absent on some days, however, doesn’t mean you aren’t there every step of the way, as essentially, you still can.

It only requires some changes in your lifestyle and schedule to make those visits possible. And, when you’re in the ICU supporting your loved one, your presence is felt. The suggestions above are worth applying as you navigate through this challenging time.


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HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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