ICU: Tips for Patients and Families (cont.)

Dad visits from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Maureen visits from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm

Kevin visits from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm

It is important for family members to remember to be supportive of each other. Don't forget to take care of yourself, eat, drink fluids and get rest!

  • Consider setting up an information update on the family answering machine so family and friends can get frequent updates on your love one's condition. Multiple phone calls to the Critical Care Unit staff can be time consuming and the staff wants to be at your loved one's bedside.
  • Have two designated family members that communicate with the physicians and nurses in regard to your loved one's daily progress, and then those family members can update everyone else. You may want to keep a journal of information, questions, and answers. The critical care staff does not have time to answer the questions of multiple family members - they are very busy people and have your love one's best interest at heart.
  • Allow your loved one periods of rest, this is a critical part of the healing process.
  • Just sit quietly at the bedside, speak only if your loved one wakes up. Offer support and comfort.

The ICU is a busy place filled with all types of noise. Patients do not get much sleep, and sleep deprivation along with narcotic drugs can contribute to confusion in the intensive care unit, called "ICU psychosis," due to the critical care environment and illness itself. Many elderly patients become confused just being removed from their homes into a different environment, or in the dark of night, even when they are not particularly ill. As the patient continues heal from the illness or injury, medications are typically decreased. Normal sleep patterns gradually return and the patient recovers from the confusion of ICU psychosis. The act of communication will aid the patient in the process of returning to normal orientation. You will find the hospital staff very helpful in offering suggestions that will be beneficial to your loved one as the healing process continues. Various types and levels of communication will be of benefit at different stages of the recovery process.

Last Editorial Review: 2/28/2007