By Kaye Swain
"I'm so cold," my senior aunt whispered plaintively. The nurse overheard and said, "I'll get you some heated blankets." "Thank you so much," I said, as I tucked the hospital blanket tighter around my elderly relative.
Five minutes later, my aunt's face looked brighter as the nurse tucked the toasty warm blanket around her. She felt so much better in the chilly room...for awhile. Then the blanket cooled and she was once again miserable from post-op pain coupled with being chillier than she liked.
Of course, we again got her a heated blanket, but once more, it was only a temporary solution to a long-term problem for my aunt. As with many aging seniors, her body's temperature had changed over the years and she normally ran chillier than the rest of us all the time. Being in the cooler environment of the hospital, and with a body that was hurting from the recovery process, just made her feel worse.
Later, as I was at her house gathering up her clothes for the next day, I spotted her much loved and much used plush, soft "sherpa" microfiber throws. They are light-weight, cozy, and warm. Perfect for her somewhat frail body. I grabbed two of them and put them in the bag I was packing.
When I got to the hospital, I pulled them out and her smile lit the room. I immediately covered her with one of them and she sighed contentedly. Even though it wasn't as warm as the heated hospital blanket initially, it was much warmer than the unheated blankets. AND it stayed warm non-stop. Plus it felt so good against her skin.
There are occasions when personal blankets aren't allowed in the hospital. Heading into surgery, the patient probably can't have one. I'm not sure about the Intensive Care Unit. But overall, we've found they are often acceptable for many hospital stays. And she was so much happier and warmer once she had those blankets there. That's definitely an item that we'll be packing in the future if we have to head back to the hospital.
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.