Is your aging parent getting ready for a scheduled surgery or medical procedure that requires a hospital stay?
If so, you have some time to pull together a hospital bag that specifically meets their needs if they must stay there for several days. While the hospital will provide the basics, many people like to bring some important extras that make their stay more pleasant and won’t leave them without some essential items that they don’t want to live without.
It’s also a good idea for family caregivers and senior care providers to have a hospital bag packed for the aging adult, even if there is no scheduled hospital stay. Because of age-related issues, many elderly adults must make emergency trips to the hospital. During that stressful time, it’s much easier for you or the senior care provider to grab a bag already packed with important things than to scurry around trying to find items. In the stress of the moment, you will be grateful for the advanced planning.
So, what items should go into your aging mom or dad’s hospital bag? While each senior’s needs are unique, there are some essentials that everyone should include:
- Clean underwear
- Socks or slippers
- Bathrobe, cardigan sweater or zip-up hoodie
- Drawstring pajama bottoms
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hairbrush or comb
- Makeup for women
- Shaving accessories
- Wet wipes
- Non-scented lotion and lip balm
- A small amount of cash
- Books or e-readers
- Magazines, playing cards, or puzzles
- A few appropriate snacks
- Medical history paper with current medication, doctor information, and recent surgeries
- Copies of medical insurance cards and other relevant financial information
- Legal documents such as a living will and power of attorney
- Backup glasses, hearing aid batteries and other needed devices
- Small personal comfort item such as a photo
The hospital bag itself should be sturdy and include a shoulder strap as well as the handles.
If you are packing the bag for a future emergency, store the bag in a location that is easy to access, such as a closet by the front door. If there is a rush, you can simply grab the bag as you assist your aging parent.
It’s no surprise that staying in a hospital can be cold, impersonal and frightening for seniors who are used to aging in place at home. As wonderful as the hospital staff is, many seniors simply want to feel comfortable. A properly packed overnight bag can do the job. If there is an emergency, it’s also a great comfort to family caregivers to know that their loved one’s needs will be met.