Alabama Seniors

4 Stages: Ease Your Stress During a Hospital Stay

Making a trip to the hospital is daunting for anyone, especially older adults with cognitive or physical difficulties. Preparing for all stages of a hospital stay can ease stress in the unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital.


Stage 1: Before You Arrive

  • Review with your doctor why you are being hospitalized. Ask about any planned tests and who is in charge of your care at the hospital.
  • If you would like an advocate for your hospital stay, inform your doctor and the admitting staff in advance.
  • Gather these items and take them with you to the hospital.
Photo ID Results of tests done six weeks ago or less
Health insurance card Advance directive
Up-to-date list of medications List of allergies or sensitivities to medicine


Stage 2: At the Hospital

  • Determine who you or your advocate can talk to with questions about treatment.
    • Who will explain the treatment plan and notify you of what will happen next?
    • If you must move to another room or care unit, who will notify you and your family of the impending move?
    • If you feel that your health concerns are not being met, who can you speak to about your patient rights?
  • If you are using Medicare, did you receive “An Important Message from Medicare”?

Stage 3: Before You Leave

When your doctor arrives to discharge you, verify the following:

  • Treatment you received and why
  • What recovery will be like
  • Your responsibility in recovery (e.g. Changes to your diet, caring for a wound, activity level, follow-up appointments)

Stage 4: At Home

Once you are settled at home, take time to review all the information you received during your hospital discharge.

  • If you need follow-up treatment, know who will be treating you outside of the hospital.
  • Combine your new medication list with your prior medication list. Understand which medications should be stoppedcontinued, or have different dosage.
  • Tell your doctor, pharmacist, or geriatric care manager if you experience any warning signs or complications.

When possible, preparing for your hospital stay can lower your stress. You’ll have peace of mind during an otherwise difficult and confusing experience.

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