Many of us heard growing up, “Better to look good” than to feel good. When it comes to aging seniors in the hospital, there is some truth to that.

Back in the hospital with mom; this time – an infection severe enough to admit her to the hospital. Two nights thus far and I’m HOPEFUL I can get her released today – if she is strong enough. And of course, I am trying to remind myself, better to look good than feel good.

The problem with hospital visits is this:

  • Your loved one may need medical care but being in the hospital disrupts their patterns, medications and surroundings. That can cause them to spin off into a decline that has little to do with the original condition which sent them to the hospital.
  • They are at more risk of germs. Hospitals = more people who are already sick so the risks go up.
  • Hospitals tend to administer medications based on time rotations that work with their schedules, not necessarily what is best for a patient. In the cases of those with neurological issues; such as Parkinson’s, changing medication times can send your person into a DIVE quickly. YOU have to be a MAJOR PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHAT about when your loved one is getting their meds! Basically, you must become the SQUEAKY WHEEL!
  • If you find yourself in the hospital – take the lead and tell the care team your elder’s ‘baseline.’ Make sure they understand just because this person is old and frail doesn’t mean they are ready to ‘call it quits.’ DON’T GIVE UP ON THEM!
  • Make sure to comb their hair every day, change whatever clothing they are allowed to have on while in a hospital bed and no matter how hard it is to get them up, brush their teeth and clean their face. Keep your loved one looking presentable and not like someone who is trying to escape from a psych ward. This is when you must follow the guideline ‘better to look good than to feel good!’
  • Perhaps most importantly: BE KIND TO YOUR CARE STAFF!

Right now our front-line workers are stretched, overwhelmed, stressed and working with COVID-19 fears everyday. Their work is hard and taxing. Thank them. Offer to help when you can but stay out of their way when they need to tend to items. Make sure you are involved in your loved ones care including their meals. Ask what time the doctor makes rounds and be in place when they do. Remember, you are your loved one’s advocate! When that doctor does show up they may not know your loved one is following the Better to Look Good rules. When they see a solid appearance it may help them realize their frail and elderly patient deserves a bit of extra attention, care and respect!

Make sure you ALWAYS leave several phone numbers on the chart board in the room where staff can see it. Remind them you can be reached 24/7 if necessary.

*PS: I’m writing this post as I dashed home from sitting at the hospital with Miss Nellie.*

I leave you with this: years ago I watched a movie called EVENING. It’s also a book. The reviews weren’t that great, but I enjoyed it. Little did I know that I might one day find myself in the situation of looking at the reality of maybe being the child who just might be the one who will be in place when it is mom’s time to cross over. It is so scary to not know – and to hope that you are doing the right things from day to day. And the FEAR – that your loved one will decide to move on and you won’t be there. Every single time the phone rings… I jump.