7 Ways to Recover Faster After a Hospital Stay

Returning home from a hospital stay can be an uncertain time. To speed your recovery, follow these smart tips

Photo: Doctor and nurse accompanying discharged patient

Coming home after a hospital stay may feel like crossing a finish line. But the race isn’t over just yet. Some steps along the way may have a big impact on your ability to heal. Here are some easy ways to speed your recovery after a hospital visit:

Know the Plan
Before you leave the hospital, you will be given instructions for any special care. If not, ask your doctor or nurse if you need to keep an eye on indicators like weight gain or weight loss. Are there foods you should avoid? If you have questions about your recovery plan once you’re home, don’t hesitate to call your doctor’s office. Your pharmacist can assist with any questions about medications.

Move a Little Every Day
Some physical activity, such as short walks or spins on a stationary bike, can help you get back to your usual self. Based on your doctor’s direction, try to move a little a day or two after you come home, gradually increasing your daily activity. Take it slow, though.

Resume Your Routine
Chances are that a hospital visit has knocked your sleep schedule out of kilter. Resuming a normal sleeping routine will help you heal faster and feel better. Get back on your usual schedule as best you can, allowing yourself some downtime to rest in the midmorning and afternoon.

Activate Your Mind
Keep your mind occupied by reading, playing games, doing puzzles, or studying a new subject online. Listen to audio books or podcasts.

Take Your Temperature
If you’ve had surgery, take your temperature two times a day: at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Your doctor may recommend a temperature check for up to three weeks after you return home. Immediately tell your doctor if your temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Monitoring your temperature will help determine if you have any infection.

Give Stitches TLC
If your hospital stay involved stitches, keep them dry, especially in the first 24 hours. Don’t shower or bathe that first day. Avoid movement or straining the area around the stitches.

Say Thanks
You probably said thanks to your care team before leaving the hospital. You may also want to follow up with a note to hospital administration in which you commend your doctors, nurses, technicians, and others who helped you. An attitude of gratitude may help you recover.