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    Preparing Your Adolescent for Hospitalization and Surgery
    Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento

    Hospitalization can effect adolescents in a variety of ways, and we can help them to cope by preparing them for this experience. Some of the things that adolescents are often concerned with include: body image (what will happen to their bodies and how they will look and feel), privacy, loss of control and independence, and staying in contact with friends. It is important to offer information about the hospital, surgery, treatments, etc. in as much detail as the adolescent wants. At this age, some adolescents cope best with a lot of information, while some do not want many details at all. In most cases, good preparation will provide the adolescent with a better sense of control over the hospital experience. While hospitalization often takes away a certain degree of independence and control, we can encourage adolescent patients to take responsibility for as much of their care as possible, and we can offer choices and explanations to help them maintain some control.

    Teenagers can be private not only about their bodies, but also about their thoughts and feelings. It is important to encourage your child to ask questions and express his feelings and concerns, while also respecting his need for privacy. To provide some privacy in the hospital, curtains can be drawn, doors can be closed, and signs can be put up for certain "private times."

    Your teenager can stay in contact with friends by telephone, and can have friends visit the hospital also. There is a teen room available for adolescent patients (if they are able to leave their rooms) for activities and visits with friends.

    Your adolescent may want to bring some familiar things from home that she likes to have with her, i.e. a walkman and favorite music, hand-held games, a journal, magazines, comfortable clothes, etc.

    Any information that you and your adolescent can give to the pediatric staff (including comfort preferences, routines, likes and dislikes) will help us to provide the best care possible.

    For more information, or to schedule a pre-admission tour and preparation, call the Child Life Program at 733-1021.

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