Breaking it Down: Post Intensive Care Syndrome and Prevention - Part II
This month we are going to discuss Post Intensive Care Syndrome and Prevention Part II - what loved ones can do to help prevent PICS.
It is not uncommon for loved ones to feel overwhelmed when in the intensive care unit. The ICU is a very unfamiliar and scary environment for most people, and caring for your critically ill loved one can seem like too much at times. However, the physical presence through voice and touch that a loved one can provide can be as therapeutically beneficial as many of the interventions provided by the medical team. Below are a few tips to keep in mind while with your loved one in the ICU to help make this time easier for everyone:
- When appropriate, help ensure that your loved one has any needed assistive devices such as glasses, hearing aids, dentures, etc. This will help your loved one adjust to and understand the ICU environment more easily.
- Normalize the ICU room for your loved one. Bring in familiar pictures, pillows, blankets, music, etc. to help your loved one feel more connected to their life outside of the hospital.
- Be present with your loved one. Talk to them as you normally do. Even patients who are unable to respond benefit from the conversational presence of familiar voices.
- Don't be afraid to touch your loved one. Physical connection is very important, but can be scary in the ICU. Work with your loved one's healthcare team to safely provide a simple touch such as a hug or gentle massage.
- Engage with the medical team. Do not be afraid to be present at patient rounds to hear the most recent updates on your loved one and take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. You are the key member of your loved one's medical team.
- Keep a diary of your loved one's ICU stay. ICU diaries can be very powerful tools in post ICU period - for both the patient and their loved ones. More can be found on this topic at the following link: ICU diaries - how do they help?
- Take care of yourself. Your participation in your loved one's recovery from critical illness is vital. Your ability to help will be greatest if you remember to take good care of yourself. Get regular sleep in a non-stimulating environment away from the hospital as much as you are able. Remember to fulfill your nutritional needs with high quality foods and drinks. And care for your emotional needs. Reach out to others to help process your emotions during this very stressful time. Online support forums such as the following may be helpful: Caregivers and Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) - Let's Talk
Stay tuned to next month's blog to learn about recovery and Post-Intensive Care Syndrome.