Senior Living: Prepare for hospital stay

Q. What are some tips for making the most of my hospital stay?

A visit to the ER can be especially stressful. It may go more smoothly if you take along:

Your health insurance card or policy number.

A list of your medications.

A list of your health problems.

The names and phone numbers of your doctor.

One or two family members or friends.

It is helpful to have this information with you at all times, just in case you are ever taken to the emergency room while you are away from home.

During your ER visit, ask questions if you do not know what a doctor or other medical staff is doing, such as what medical tests are being done. Make sure you understand what the ER doctor tells you about your health, or ask him or her to write it down.

Also, make sure you know if there is anything special you need to do after you go home from the ER. For example, if you have a bandage, find out when and how to change it. Tell your regular doctor(s) as soon as possible about your visit to the ER.

Questions you may want to ask medical staff in the ER:

"Will you talk to my regular doctor about my care?"

"Do I need to make special doctor visits for my health problem?"

"Can you write down what I need to do to care for my health problem?"

There are other things of concern if you are admitted. Most hospitals have a daily schedule. This means that things like your doctor visits, medical tests and meals will be at a similar time each day. It may be helpful to know this schedule and talk to your doctors and nurses about how much choice you have about your daily schedule. Make sure you know what time your doctor will visit you so that you have your questions ready. You might also want to plan to have a family member or friend with you when the doctor visits.

Questions you may want to ask your nurses or other medical staff in the hospital:

"How long do you think I will be in the hospital?"

"What doctors and other medical staff will take care of my health?"

"When will I see my doctor?"

A visit to the hospital, especially an unexpected one, can be very upsetting, so it is good to be prepared ahead of time.

NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, e-mail it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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