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Critical illness or injury affects the whole family, not just the patient. Few people are really prepared for a family member's admission to the hospital or in the case of a critical illness or injury - the long recovery period. Worrying and changing your routine can make you tired and stressed, and that in turn can worry your hospitalized loved one. Looking after yourself while your family member is in the hospital will help you take better care of your loved one.
- Remember to continue to take any prescription medicine you need and follow any medically-ordered diet.
- Drink plenty of water and eat regular healthy meals and snacks.
- Ask family members and friends to help with chores. Don't be afraid to put off things that can wait.
- Rely on your support system - friends, family, clergy and social workers. Don't be afraid to accept help. Doing so will help you focus on coping with the patient's illness.
- If your friends offer to take you to lunch or pick up your mail, let them.
- Focus on staying healthy. It's the best way to help care for the person in the hospital.
- Talk about it. Don't be afraid to share your experience with others in the same situation. Waiting room conversations can turn into valuable sources of support.
- Take time away from the hospital. Don't feel guilty about it. Sometimes fresh air, a change of scenery and a night in your own bed can work wonders in helping you handle the stress. Let the nurse know where you'll be and how you can be reached.
- Exercise to help decrease stress.
- Try to be calm and cheerful while visiting with the patient. He or she might be watching you closely and worry if you don't seem to be taking care of yourself.