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Transitioning Home

Transitioning Home

Tracy
Now, once your home is modified and those required assistive devices are in place, what’s next? Well remember since people with TBI do best with structure and consistency, we’ve talked about that before, your health care team will help you write a master schedule before he comes home. That will help you so much if you stick to the schedule so you don’t have to rely on your memory. You’ll find a sample schedule in your Guide for Caregivers.

And along with the master schedule, you’ll also want to make sure you have a written list of all the therapy and all the exercises that will be done at home, including diagrams or pictures of each step. Really helpful.

Carl
I was glad that I was part of Sam’s PT all along, because I was familiar with most of his exercises. Still, it’s nice to have diagrams to remind me of exactly what to do, or to show someone else how to help Sam, when I’m not around.

Julie
I’m helping with the physical therapy, too, and so are some of Sam’s buddies from school and from his unit. So every week I put together some sort of a chart to keep it all organized.

Tracy
That’s great, Julie. Organization it’s critical, it’s so important to a successful transition home. Michelle, when Tom comes home, you’ll need to be ready to manage his medications, track his treatments, organize all the caregiving tasks among the family and friends.

But let’s focus for a minute on managing your loved one’s medications. It’s so important to keep track of what medications are being taken and when. So when you leave the hospital or the treatment facility, be sure you get a copy of the discharge instructions. That will include a list and a schedule for all the medications your family member is taking. And when you pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy, match your drugs to the list, and be sure that you have written instructions for each and every medication.

And if you’re not sure about a medication, be sure and ask what that medication is for, you know what it does, and what to do if you miss a dose. Now make sure you know when and how to administer each and every drug. Also, be aware of what to do if there are any side effects caused by the medication.

Michelle
I’ve tried to keep track of every single drug that Tom’s been given since this whole thing started. I’ve collected a lot of paperwork, but I like knowing that I can go back and check something if I need to.

Tracy
That’s an important part of being a good caregiver and a good advocate, Michelle. And there are some other things you can do to manage Tom’s medications. For example, always inform all the members of your health care team of any drug or other allergies that he may have. 

Also you need to keep an up-to-date medication log, and make sure the health care providers are aware of all the different medications he's taking. Now the log should include all the over-the-counter medications. All the things he takes, anything like antacids, pain relievers, supplements, energy drinks, herbal products, since there might be some possible side effects or harmful interactions. Carry that medication log with you every time you have a medical appointment.

Now in terms of administering medications, you might want to use something like this, the 7-day pillbox like this. It will help you keep things organized, make sure your family member takes things on time.

Never, ever stop the medication or adjust the dosage on your own; always consult your doctor first. Your family member with TBI should NEVER take any medication without prior approval from his health care provider.

You’ll find a medication log in your Guide for Caregivers that will help you keep track of your loved one’s medication. The log will also come in handy for tracking any side effects. Be sure to ask the doctor which side effects are serious, and then call your doctor immediately if they occur.

And you can also use the comments section of the medication log to write down the results of lab tests. You want to be sure to always take the log to appointments with health care providers.

Megan
I have to admit that this really scares me. I haven’t even really thought about doing PT or being responsible for Clay’s medications. I mean I don’t want to hurt him…

Michelle
I know what you mean, Megan. You know, we’ve been at Tom’s side for the past few months, but that’s been at the hospital, where we always had someone to ask “what’s next.” At home, there’s not going to be anyone there to ask. There’s just so much to do.

Tracy
You know that’s true, Michelle, but I know you guys are up to the task. And Megan, the health care team will be there to explain everything to you. They’re going to make sure you know exactly what needs to be done. You won’t be alone. Clayton won’t come home until everything’s absolutely ready.

Okay, let’s take a short break. When we come back we’ll talk more about how to get help with your caregiving. Okay.

How Do I Manage Medications?

How Do I Manage Medications? 

It is important to keep track of what medications are being taken and when. Here are tips to manage medications and prevent mistakes:

  • Always inform all members of your health care team of any drug or latex allergies.
  • When you leave the hospital or treatment facility, be sure you get a copy of the discharge instructions. They will include a list of all the medications your service member/veteran will be taking.
  • When picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy, have the pharmacy provide written information about the current prescriptions.
  • When picking up the prescription, make sure the order has your family member’s name on it. Make sure it includes the correct pills at the right dose.
  • Ask the doctor and/or pharmacist 
    • what the medication is for, what it does 
    • what to do if you miss a dose 
    • when/how to take it (empty or full stomach, day time or bed time) 
    • what to do if there are side effects
  • Make sure the doctor is aware of all other medications. This includes supplements and herbal products that your family member takes. There might be possible side effects or harmful interactions.
  • Keep an up-to-date medication log with all prescription and non- prescription items. Include over-the-counter medications like antacids, pain relievers, supplements, high-energy drinks, and herbal products.
  • Carry the medication log with you every time you have a medical appointment.
  • Use a pill box to help you organize the medications and to help your family member take them on time.
  • It is never a good idea to stop medication on your own; always consult a provider first to discuss.
  • It can also be dangerous to adjust the dosage of medications on your own, without consulting the physician.
  • If you are having financial difficulties that make it hard to pay for medications, contact your case manager.
  • Your family member with TBI should NEVER take any medication without talking to the health care provider first.

 

Tips for Tracking Treatments and Side Effects
  • List side effects of medications (date and time) on the medication log at the end of this chapter. Ask the doctor which side effects are serious and call immediately if they occur. 
  • Write down results of tests (such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and/ or medication blood levels). If you are checking your family member’s blood pressure or blood sugars at home, write down the values.
  • Be sure to take these results to appointments with health care providers.
Related Information:
Sample Master Schedule
Medication Log
How Do I Manage Medications?
Glossary
Frequently Asked Questions
"He really won’t tell me the whole story because I think he doesn’t want to scare me. But, he brought me a piece of metal back home that was embedded in the wall right behind him. He said it missed his head by a few inches. He said that he thanks God every day that he’s still alive, and that’s why he brought the piece of metal home, to show me that that’s how close he had come to dying." -  Lynn C-S.

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