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Managing Recovery Expectations

Updated: Jun 13, 2020

It is common to be unprepared for the length of time it takes to regain strength and mobility after leaving intensive care. This may be due to having little or no memory of ones intensive care experiences, failing to realize how ill one truly was, or understanding why one feels weak when leaving the hospital. Don’t expect to leave the hospital in the same condition you were in when you arrived. The rule of thumb for a hospital stay is giving 4-7 days to recover to pre-hospital condition for each day spent in the hospital. There are also other factors to consider:

Recovery time factors

Age, previous health, how ill one was in ICU, medications taken, and the duration of the hospital stay need to be taken into consideration during recovery. Do not be disheartened when you don't recover in a day as scientists found that for every day of bed rest in the ICU, muscle strength was between 3 and 11 percent lower over the following months and years. “Even a single day of bed rest in the ICU has a lasting impact on weakness, which impacts patients’ physical functioning and quality of life,” says Dale M. Needham, M.D., Ph.D.

Recovery Care

Muscle strength, agility, and overall body tone decreases while laying in a hospital bed. In the following days and weeks after being in intensive care people often find the slightest activity 'wiped them out'. It may be necessary to include using a walker and other assist devices around the home, as well as attending rehabilitation and therapy if there was an extended stay at the hospital. During recovery daily activities such as showering, dressing, walking, cooking and cleaning become near impossible and stairs become difficult, posing a fall risk. This often leads to temporarily bringing beds and clothes to the main floor for ease and safety. Part of recovery is feeling safe and comfortable using medical equipment, maintaining personal hygiene, taking medication as prescribed, and attending follow up appointments. Hiring a caregiver may be beneficial to recovery by providing support with one's home, hygiene, and medical needs.

Embrace Technology During and After Recovery

Technology is becoming more important than ever to keep one safe and independent. New monitoring products designed to serve older adults are continuously being developed. Consider implementing one or more of these technologies to help live a safe lifestyle:

  • Wearable alert systems (Philips Lifeline), detect falls and calls for help.

  • Smart watches (Apple Series 4), monitors heart rhythm and detects falls.

  • Special cell phones (GreatCall), offers emergency response buttons.

  • Voice-controlled devices (LifePod, Amazon Alexa and Google Home), can set medication and appointment reminders.

  • Cameras and motion sensors (Evermind), monitors regular activity or signals a lack of it to one's caregiver.

  • Automatic Pill Dispensers, helps prevent double dosing and take the stress out of remembering when to take medication.

Understanding recovering factors, requesting assistance, and embracing technology will aid one in a safe recovery. For assistance during the recovery journey, look to Home Care Partners of Nebraska. A local company that provides assistance with housework, personal care, and attending appointments. Call them today to learn more about their services available to make recovery easier. For more information on support with recovery, contact Home Care Partners of Nebraska, 402-780-1211.

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