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Aethelwine's avatar

How can I persuade my father to leave the hospital and get some rest?

Asked by Aethelwine (41233points) March 16th, 2013

My mother suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm late Wednesday evening. My mother had surgery yesterday and will be in the ICU for the next 2–3 weeks. My father has had very little sleep since this happened and has been sleeping in my mother’s hospital room on a recliner. Both of my parents are in their late 70s. My father is diabetic.

My sisters and I have decided to take turns to stay with our mom so our dad can go home to shower and nap, but he refuses to go home for the evening to sleep. My sister who was with my mom today was told by the nurse that my mother won’t remember anything that happens the next two weeks. She told my sister that our father should go home between 11pm and 7am to get some rest. My dad finally admitted to my sister that he’s afraid to leave my mom because he’s afraid something might happen when he is gone.

My turn is tomorrow. I haven’t seen my father since the surgery yesterday. Is there anything that I can say that might persuade him to go home in the evening to get some rest. He’s going to need the energy for when my mom can return home.

If you read all of this, thank you. I’m worried about the health of my father as well. Our family could really use some guidance right now.

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30 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Tell your father he’s not doing himself or your mom any good by not getting any rest. Tell him that I’m an ICU physician and I tell family members all the time to go home and sleep. They can’t make decisions if they’re tired.

chyna's avatar

I’m so glad the surgery is over and your mom is on her way to recovery.
Tell him that he has to be healthy and rested for your mom when she gets home to be able to take care of her at home. That you girls will be taking turns staying with her at night and will call him if anything happens during the night, but that the doctors and nurses are there to ensure nothing happens at night.

Unbroken's avatar

@jonsblond I wish the best for your family. Sorry you are in this situation.

I have no sense of what will work in this situation. I don’t know your father or the best approach. Logic, rationality, compassion, assurance, manipulation, emotional guilt, honesty, opening a dialogue discussing his fears and developing a plan to manage them. Emotional guilt over how much you are worrying about his health. Just not giving him a choice and taking over as the authority figure.

I would try all of them until one of them worked. But I would start with the dialogue and the authority figure.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jonsblond, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. He loves her and is afraid. I know you realize that. It warms my heart to know there is still that kind of love in this world. You must come from good stock young lady.

Here’s my suggestions. If you can maneuver the conversation to let him know he’s in charge of everything and how much he is needed it will help. Don’t make it seem like he is a child you are talking to. Let him remain the father and husband as best you can.

Tell him that the three of you are going to have to do shifts to be with your mother around-the-clock so she won’t be alone. Explain why each shift works best for you and your sister and ask him if he can be back in the morning to relieve you or whoever it is staying the night. Laugh and tell him decent coffee and breakfat would also be appreciated.

My dad was the same way when my mom was in the hospital. I think they feel so helpless and lost just sitting around the house without their wife they would rather be exhausted sleeping in a recliner at the hospital near her.

Please, let us know how she is doing.

marinelife's avatar

Tell him that he has to have rest to look and feel good for your mom when she is feeling better.

zenvelo's avatar

My sympathies, and I hope your mom has a speedy and whole recovery.

Tell your dad that mom depends on him and when she is home she will need him strong and rested so she can recover well. He needs to rest while she is being cared for in the hospital.

Pandora's avatar

I’m sorry to hear about your mom and dad.
You can try to appeal to him logically but I don’t think that will work. He’s probably worried that she may pass away and that he won’t be there when she does. Right now he is running on fear. Ask the nurse if you can bring in something for him to sleep on. Maybe you can see if you can get a laptop and leave a camera on viewing her bed at night. An he can have it set up to see at home so he can wake up from time to time and check in on how she is doing from the comforts at home. But most of all, for now, he simply may hate being at home alone or at least waking up in his bed alone.

Is someone staying with him as well?
Alone in your home at night with a ton of fearful thoughts running through your head is horrible. Right now he is in morning. He knows that things will no longer be like yesterday. It’s not a matter of just being sick. She may not wake up the same woman he knew. He is probably feeling helpless in helping her. Take him out and find out what she may need in the future so they are prepared when she leaves the hospital and he can concentrate and helping her without having to do things last minute and maybe not get her proper care. You need to find other ways for him to be able to help her.

My prayers are with you and your family. Have a good night.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@jonsblond first of all I am really sorry for what you are going through. I have been on your fathers side and I am not quite sure what you can tell him. I understand everything on his side. But I understand your side as well.

You may just have to tell him that no matter what if something happens to her regardless of him being there or not he can’t do anything but that she is in the best place and he is no good to her if he is exhausted and unrested.
Also maybe there are things he can do at home to lessen the load when she does get home. Does he understand he is going to be taking care of her? Will she have any type of home care or will your father be stuck doing it all.

I wish you all the best.

Aethelwine's avatar

I want you all to know how helpful you have been and I’m taking the time to read all of your answers. Thank you so much.

pleiades's avatar

I wouldn’t want to leave my wife’s side either. I can’t imagine that I would be getting rest being at home while my wife was in the hospital. They must have miles and miles of memories together. From my perspective I would want my son to let me have this if I were in your fathers shoes. But either way that’s just me, in the end I hope you will follow your heart and let that guide you to the decision you hold the most passion for. Take deep breaths on it, close your eyes, and follow your vision in a caring manner.

whitenoise's avatar

I am with @pleiades, but foremost I’m sorry to hear from your mom.

My sympathies go out to you and your family and I hope all will work out as good as possible and I wish you strength.

Sunny2's avatar

My best wishes for all turning out well. He does need to take care of himself, but he’s thinking only of being with her. A cot by her bed may be the only way he could rest, if that can be arranged. Ask the nurses what can be arranged. They are pretty good at that these days.

Judi's avatar

Is there a Ronald McDonald House affiliated with the hospital? Maybe he would be willing to go there to take a shower and a nap. It won’t feel like he’s going so far away. It’s a compromise for him. They are wonderful.

Aethelwine's avatar

His home is only 5 miles from the hospital. The distance isn’t a problem. I thought he would take a long nap today when he went home, but he was only gone for 3½ hours. My sister did say he seemed refreshed and he was appreciative, but he needs more than a 3 hour nap.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@jonsblond N and I were talking about this and she mentioned perhaps getting a cot in the room, as well, for you Dad.

You all are in my thoughts!!! xo

JLeslie's avatar

Has the hospital provided a bed/gurney for him? In a regular room they often will, but in ICU I don’t know.

If he is staying because he feels that he would be a bad husband if he left then maybe you can pursuade him. But, if he is staying because he can’t fathom leaving her side, that emotionally he wants to be as physically close to her as possible and protect her, then I say leave him be. God forbid something went bad fast for your mom, he might never forgive himself if he was not present. Or, maybe he is afraid when she wakes (if she is still unconscious) he won’t be there. Knowing exactly what he is afraid of might help to calm his concerns. Although, for me, if I was afraid my spouse could die I probably would not leave. If it was just waiting for him to wake up I would be willing to leave and ask I be called if he wakes. Once she moves to a different room and is more stable hopefully he will go home. Your mom will probably convince him to go home herself.

If the worst happened and your mom died, your father is at risk too. I say do your best to make him comfortable, ask for a gurney for him to rest on if they have not provided it. Or, a sheet to cover the sofa in the waiting room, or bring your own, and a pillow and let him sleep there if he only is sleeping in reclining chairs at the hospital.

However, my advice comes without me being there obviously, so I am not seeing how your father looks, maybe the exhaustian on his face. I might feel the same as you in your position.

Would he be willing to take a drug like Xanax. That will calm him enough that he probably will sleep better and longer.

Sorry you and your family are going through this. :( Let us know how things are going.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

May both of them be well! God bless.

Pandora's avatar

@jonsblond if he is still driving, please make sure someone is driving him home. A really exhausted driver is the same as driving while drunk.
You could try taking him home and making him a good meal. After eating ask that he take a nap. He can fall asleep easier after a full meal and knowing someone is there with him. He may help him to relax enough to sleep longer.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I’ve thought about this question a lot more since my previous answer.

Some hospitals are more strict, I have been in both situations but that doesn’t seem like it is the case here if he has already been staying the night. Maybe you should let your dad follow his heart?

I know that advice seems awful for you to watch your father go through all that but I am coming from his perspective and being in the room was much better for me and although I did not get much sleep, I was less stressed, I am wondering if your dad feels the similar. I have also had both experiences, so I can comment on both, I wasn’t going to but I changed my mind and thought it might help to have this type of perspective. I hope you don’t mind.

When my husband had to change hospitals due to the fact that the new one had a machine that the old one did not, the new hospital was more strict. Their were knocking on the ICU door at 7pm every night. That was surprising. So I had to go home until 10am the next day which was when visiting hours began. That time for me was torture. I was so stressed I think got about an hour of sleep each night anyway. If I did fall asleep and the phone rang, I would jump out of my skin.

I personally was much more calm at the hospital, maybe your father is too even with little sleep. You could always ask him non chalantly(sp?) if he would rather sleep in a chair, in a cot in your mothers room, in the hospital or in his own bed and see what his thoughts are on the situation and then you know where to go from.

I don’t think you are going to be strict and make him go home, not like the hospital made me. I just wanted to give both perpectives that I had. I hope that helps even a little bit.

chyna's avatar

Update us @jonsblond as to your mom’s progress on her recovery and your dad’s health as well.
My prayers are with your family.

Aethelwine's avatar

I just returned from the hospital. My father went home to rest for a bit and clean up while I stayed with my mother. My sister who lives in California called him and woke him from his short nap, so he didn’t get the rest that he needed. He decided he will go home tonight to sleep in his bed, then return early in the morning.

My mother regressed a bit today. She didn’t open her eyes like she did yesterday and she mostly slept while I was there. She would wake up now and then and make sounds like she was in pain. They have her hands wrapped so she won’t pull at her tubes. Her heart rate was a bit high and not steady, so they were trying to get that under control. They are doing an angiogram in the morning. It was so difficult to see my mother like this. One of the most difficult days of my life. It didn’t help when I had to listen to the family of my mother’s roommate decide if they should take him off of life support. They made the decision. I had to hold back tears as I listened to the family cry. The man is only 61. They moved my mother to a different room once that decision was made.

Just an all around very sad day. Thank you all for your help, good thoughts and prayers. It helps to know there are kind people who care.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Thinking about you, your Mom and your family, and praying for you all. xo

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I’m so sorry. Bad to worse always seems so impossibly unfair. I hope things turn around quickly for the better.

Is the angiogram because they concerned about her heart?

I don’t think I have ever been in an ICU that had two patients in one room. That must be very difficult to have very critical patients in one room, because the families are so concerned and stressed. I hope she stays solo in the room for her sake and your family.

Do you feel good about her care at the hospital?

bkcunningham's avatar

You take care of yourself too, @jonsblond. You need your rest too. Eat and drink properly. I know it is hard, but stay strong. Talk to her and love her and your dad when you are with them. Tell your husband to hold you and be very tender with you and to love you through this difficult time.

We are never prepared to watch our parents go through a serious health problem. It is a life lesson I wish none had to experience. But if we are blessed to all live long enough, it is something we will most likely experience. Think about the good times you’ve had together and the love and laughs you’ve shared. Try to stay positive kiddo.

The stress of sitting in a hospital is unbelievable and can take a toll on a body. Please, know that there are many prayers and positive and loving thoughts reaching out to you and your family.

YARNLADY's avatar

So sorry to read of your distress. I’m sending my best wishes your way.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jonsblond, I’ve had you and your family on my mind today. I hope your mom is progressing toward good health and everyone else is fine and getting enough rest.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Your father has spent a lifetime with his wife, therefore it is understandable that he be beside his wife in her time of need.
Some hospitals offer rooms for visitors such as these.( or beds for overnight guests).
Tell him to go to one of these rooms to rest nearby, and that you will contact him
( give him a phone etc) right away if something happens etc.
He wants to be there in case she passes away with out his saying goodbye etc.

bkcunningham's avatar

I hope all is well with your family, @jonsblond.

Aethelwine's avatar

Thanks again, everyone. It has been a month since my mom’s surgery. She left the hospital this past week and is in a nursing home for rehabilitation. Her recovery is very slow and there hasn’t been much progress. She just started eating mushy food, but she still has a feeding tube. Some days she’s alert and trying to walk and other days she’s unresponsive, doesn’t talk and moans in her sleep. We haven’t had more than two days in a row with some progress, but then she hasn’t had more than two days in a row that were terrible. It’s a roller coaster for my family. Yesterday was a bad day.

My dad is still by her side for most of the day, but at least he goes home at night to get the rest he needs.

Judi's avatar

Oh @johnsblond, I hope she does better in the quieter rehab hospital. Saying a prayer for her and for your family.

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