Before the discharge, write down the name and phone number of the discharge planner and any physicians involved in your loved one's care. Also write down any instructions regarding medications, home health equipment, diet, exercise and follow-up appointments. Ask what symptoms or side effects should be expected and when you should call a physician.
Also inquire about services that can help you provide care in your loved one's home or your own. Find out early on if your loved one's insurance will cover the cost of an in-home nurse, home hospice care or other service recommended by hospital staff.
If at any time you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable with the discharge plan, speak candidly with the discharge planner. Medicare's Planning for Your Discharge checklist can help you and your relative ensure that you have all the information you need before leaving the hospital.
Make a list of everything that needs to get done in the days and weeks ahead, and enlist friends', relatives' and community members' help.
Don't forget to take care of yourself, too. You'll need plenty of rest and time to de-stress in order to remain a caregiver.