Take Care of Your Health After a Hospital Visit

Take Care of Your Health After a Hospital Visit

You’re glad to be back home after a hospital stay. But now’s the time to make sure you stay on track to heal. Take an active role in your recovery by staying on top of details.

Have you reviewed your post-discharge care instructions? Are you watching for warning signs that could mean you need medical attention? Do you know who to call with questions and concerns?  

Make a list to help you remember things you need to take care of while you recover, like:

  • Schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor.  Make sure to keep this important appointment and remember to take all discharge paperwork with you.  
  • Ask your doctor for a full review of all your medications. Be sure your doctor knows all the drugs you are taking by name. Include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements. Some combinations can be harmful. 
  • Find out if home health care is needed. If needed, make sure it has been ordered. If it hasn’t started, follow up. 
  • Stay on top of any orders and delivery for medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, walker or oxygen.  
Make Your Home Safer 

Survey your home for safety hazards that could derail your recovery. Pay attention to things that can boost your risk for a nasty fall. Move electrical cords and throw rugs out of the way. Make sure small pets don’t get underfoot and trip you up. Add grab bars near the tub and toilet, and consider a shower seat. Place a night light in the bathroom to make it easier to see. Finally, think about any assistance you may need with daily cooking, bathing, dressing and grooming. Ask for help if you need it. 

Nurture Your Emotional Health 

“It’s so important to be aware of your emotional health after a hospital stay,” says Blair Bisbee, a licensed clinical social worker who helps members with their transition from hospital to home after discharge. “Many times, receiving a new diagnosis can cause sadness, depression or anxiety.”  

Individuals with congestive heart failure, cancer or other major health concerns often experience those feelings.  Ask your doctor for help. They may refer you to a local chapters of the American Heart Association leaving site icon or American Cancer Society leaving site icon that offer resources for patients and caregivers. 

Bisbee shares several tips to help members stay positive after a hospital stay, including:  

  • Start a gratitude journal to keep your focus on the positive. 
  • Take time for the things you enjoy like volunteering, church, crafting or other hobbies.  
  • Look for support groups in your area. Sometimes having a group of supportive people who feel the same way you do can really help.  
  • Connect often with friends and family. 
  • Exercise safely, following your doctor’s guidance.  
  • Eat well. Research shows what we eat affects our brain function. 
  • Ask your doctor for referrals to behavioral health providers in your area. 
Find Help and Support 

The Family Caregiver Alliance leaving site icon offers tips for caregivers and patients to ease the shift from hospital to home.  

Many communities have a wide range of resources, including support groups for caregivers and families helping someone with an illness.    

Sources: Coping with Feelings, leaving site icon American Heart Association; Coping with Cancer, leaving site icon American Cancer Society; Hospital Discharge Planning: A Guide for Families and Caregivers, leaving site icon Family Caregiver Alliance.
Important Plan Information

Originally published 7/17/2019; Revised 2021