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How to Help a Cancer Patient Adjust to Home Life after a Hospital Stay

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 10/3/2010

Patients often need a bit of time to adjust to life at home after a hospital stay. Too often patients rapidly lose strength while in the hospital. Practical tips to help patients have a successful recovery at home after a hospital stay for cancer or chemotherapy.

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    A patient just back from cancer treatment in a hospital may still be feeling weak. If possible, it is very helpful if one can simplify the home life of a cancer patient. Be proactive to make changes to the home to ensure that a cancer patient will be safe there.

    Clean and Organize the Home

    Clutter is very stressful. A messy home is a health hazard and may also add to the stress level of the cancer patient. Perhaps while the patient is in the hospital someone could go through the home and dispose of unneeded or dangerous items.

    Ask the Patient What Items are Needed for a Return Home

    While the patient is still in the hospital work together to create a list of items needed for the patient’s return home. Often when someone is ill, they run out of basic supplies or are too weak to keep the typical food supply stocked up.

    Talking with the patient about their return home helps them start to focus on the act of recovery that will occur after the hospital stay. They may well put a few treats on the list too, like a new bathrobe or a colorful, cheerful outfit; a flowering plant; or so on so they have something to look forward to upon their return home.

    Cook and Freeze Healthy Meals

    Many healthy meals can be cooked ahead and frozen to stock the freezer of a cancer patient. Many vegetarian or chicken meals freeze well and help the cancer patient maintain good nutrition while recovering from a hospital stay.

    Take the time to cook ahead to ensure the cancer patient is able to maintain proper nutrition even when they aren’t feeling up to cooking for themselves. During chemotherapy treatment, a cancer patient may not want to eat. At least if there are some home cooked meals in the freezer, the patient will know they have some delicious food awaiting them.

    Get a Fruit Bowl for the Patient

    For the patient’s first few days at home they may not feel up to eating much more than some fruit or soup. So fill a bowl with fruits and display it in the kitchen or dining room. Encourage the patient to plan to snack on fruits rather than unhealthy items like chips or fast food. Cook and freeze some soups that are easy on the stomach such as chicken noodle soup or vegetable broth soup.

    Make Appointments for Patient Upkeep

    The patient may not be feeling their best and may not want to venture out of the home right away after a return from the hospital. Try to find a hairdresser or a manicurist who will make a home visit if having a beauty treatment would cheer the patient up.

    Organize a Calendar for Medical Follow-up

    Find a calendar that is large enough to fit medical appointments for the patient. Help the patient get organized for follow-up medical care with a new calendar.

    Find a Support Group

    Find or organize a support group for the patient. Ask the patient’s doctor and the hospital for any information for support groups in the area. The site www.Cancer.org offers cancer information and helps patients stay up to date with possible experimental treatments.

    Encourage Journal Writing

    Writing is very therapeutic. Cancer patients may benefit from keeping a journal about their daily life, writing about their memoirs in a journal, or creating original poetry, articles, or stories in a journal. They could also start a journal to write letters to a special relative such a grandchild or child. Purchase a new journal for the cancer patient to get them started writing.

    Add Art of Nature to the Home

    Looking at images of nature is said to help lessen stress. So adding some photos of flowers, or of green fields, or the ocean may give the cancer patient something pleasurable to look at and lessen their stress as well.