Your elderly father is being hospitalized right now for a serious illness, and thankfully it looks like he’s going to be O.K. Dad is scheduled to be discharged in a couple days, so right now you’re scrambling to coordinate his care once the hospital stay is over.

For many families, preparing to assist an elderly parent once they’ve left the hospital is a confusing and stressful time, especially when their loved one needs therapy and follow-up medical care. To help ensure that your parent’s recovery goes more smoothly, take these preparation steps.

Check Your Emotions

Many family members get anxious while anticipating their loved one’s discharge date, and that’s understandable. If the hospital stay was for a serious illness or surgery, it’s also natural to be worried and scared. However, you can’t think clearly if your emotions are getting in the way. Take a deep breath, focus on the task at hand, and prepare yourself mentally to line up for dad in advance the best care possible before he comes home.

Get a Discharge Plan in Writing

A discharge planner from the hospital can sit down with you and discuss a care plan for dad based on his doctor’s orders. Make sure that you get a written copy of the discharge plan, and that it clearly includes these instructions:

  • Where your parent should go after leaving the hospital, whether it’s their own home, your home, a long-term care facility or other destination.
  • How to safely transport dad from the hospital to his next destination.
  • Any follow-up medical care (rehab, therapy, home health visits, etc.) and treatments that are needed post-discharge.
  • A list of medications, durable medical equipment, wound care supplies, dietary restrictions, etc. that are needed.
  • When dad needs to follow-up with his primary care doctor or specialist.

Make sure to personally review the discharge plan with his doctor or nurse. Repeating the instructions back to them for confirmation is always best. For the sake of illustration, let’s say your father’s recovery is going to take place in your home.

Talk to Your Siblings

Using the discharge plan as a reference, before your father comes home discuss with your siblings and other family members his care needs moving forward. Develop a care team with specific responsibilities centered around each person’s skills and availability. Based on dad’s post-discharge condition, some of the caregiving duties that may be needed include:

  • Transportation to doctors’ appointments and therapy sessions
  • Scheduling follow-up appointments
  • Personal hygiene like bathing, dressing and toileting
  • Changing bandages
  • Medication management
  • Meals and feeding assistance
  • Paying bills on his behalf
  • Coordinating his medical insurance
  • Helping him get up and move around

Balancing Work, Home and Caregiving

If you’re faced with coordinating dad’s care by yourself fo