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Granddaughter asks how to help hospitalized grandmother

01 Aug
A devoted granddaughter wants to know how she can help her recently hospitalized grandmother, who has been traumatized by her experiences with hip replacement and seems to be going downhill..
My 87 yr. old grandma recently underwent hip replacement surgery. Prior to the surgery, she said that she''d hoped that she would never come to from the anesthetic. Due to an infection that they were still treating, they gave her a spinal. She''s been traumatized by being awake through it all, the hammering, the recovery pain.. then they dropped her during a transfer. She has lost kidney function. Her blood pressure drops with the pain medication, and her will to live is so low.

I just want to know how I can help her manage the pain, and perhaps her blood pressure. Since she feels confused at why she is still here, is there any guided imagery that will help her to coax out the unfinished business of her purpose in life, so that she may be in peace? She doesn''t deserve to suffer this much.


Dear Lucinda,

Good grief, what a terrible way to be treated in a hospital!! They DROPPED her?

It’s true that even with excellent quality of care, a lot of elderly patients get confused and disoriented in the hospital (who wouldn''t?) and wake up very frightened from all the weird noises and interruptions. One head nurse friend of mine at University Hospitals, Carole Phipps, wanted to have guided imagery playing during the night in each bed, so that when her elderly patients woke up, they would hear the voice and music and drop back to sleep, reassured and comforted. (Now, that''s assuming they LIKE the imagery.... if they hated it, this could constitute a new form of torture!)

I would use the Healthful Sleep imagery, which is very comforting and supportive, and the Relaxation and Wellness imagery as well. If she wants help with finishing up unresolved issues and relationships, or is just looking for a gentle, permissive feeling that it is OK to die, then the Peaceful Dying imagery is just the thing.

She may find comfort in something as simple as a nice foot massage or back rub. Or, if you know anyone who practices Reiki or Therapeutic Touch, these techniques are very soothing, help with pain and don’t even require actual contact.

Good luck and I hope she is only getting caring, competent staff from here on out! (It''s good she has you to look out for her!)

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award