So, you just got out of the hospital! Here are some ways to keep it that way.
by Rachel Weiland, PharmD, BC-ADM, MCHS Ambulatory Care Pharmacist
Focusing on nutrient-dense, fresh foods can help you lose weight, have more energy, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, enhance your immune system and so much more. Some great foods to incorporate are:
fruits and vegetables
lean meats and fish such as baked or grilled chicken and salmon
Try to avoid foods high in sugar, salt or saturated fats such as sweets, sodas, fried foods, chips, fast food and frozen meals.
Try to find a routine that combines strength training and cardio. High impact activities such as running or jump roping are great for strengthening bones and preventing fractures later in life. If you cannot do high impact exercises due to having bad joints, try swimming or biking to get your heart working and improve your endurance. Many people neglect strength training when trying to get in shape, but being physically stronger can help prevent falls, and having more muscle mass increases your metabolism, meaning you will burn more calories throughout the day. Many women are afraid that they will end up with a masculine build if they lift weights … when in reality, it would take years of very consistent, heavy weight training to do so.
I think we all know that getting enough sleep is beneficial for our health. Sleep improves our immune systems, gives us more energy and allows our bodies to recover. If you have trouble falling asleep, develop a sleep hygiene routine. No, sleep hygiene isn’t referring to being clean … it simply means to establish a sequence of bedtime activities to do before you go to bed. This might include things like changing into your pajamas, reading a chapter of a book and brushing your teeth. If you do the same routine every night, your brain will recognize that it’s time to go to bed, and you will be able to fall asleep more easily. Try your best to avoid staring at screens such as your phone, laptop or TV right before bed as this can signal to your brain to stay awake.
Fill any new medications right away
It is important that you don’t have any interruptions in taking your medications after you get out of the hospital. If you are prescribed any medications that you cannot afford, be sure to call your doctor immediately so that it can be changed to something else. You may also be able to find coupon cards or patient assistance programs to help get the cost down. Go online to the drug’s website to see if anything is available.
Know how to take your medications
Do you need to take your medication with food? On an empty stomach? In the morning? At bedtime? If you don’t know, ASK! Also, you will probably come across a time when you forget to take your medication, and remember several hours later. Ask your pharmacist what you should do in this situation, as the answer depends on the medication. Look closely at your discharge papers to see what medications were discontinued, so you don’t keep on taking medications that you don’t need, and can interact with your current medications.
Schedule follow up appointments
Sometimes you will already have doctors’ appointments scheduled for you. It is important to attend these appointments so you can continue to be monitored and catch anything before it gets to the point that you need to go back to the hospital. If no appointments are scheduled for you, be sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor as soon as possible.