How To Support a Loved One in the Hospital
When you find your loved ones in the hospital, it can be hard to know how best to support them in their time of need. Moreover, due to restrictions and safety precautions, hospital visit protocol can change, possibly influencing the future of hospital visits as a whole.
Below is information on how to support a loved one in the hospital. Learn how to plan your visits, how to prepare, and how you can help in a way that best suits the needs of your loved one.
How Often Should I Visit and How Long Should I Stay?
It's best to keep hospital visits short and sweet. Patients have a limited amount of energy and time, which can make frequent, lengthy visits draining. How often you come and for how long is mainly dependent on the patient's mood. There are no strict rules regarding the length of each visit, but short visits (about 30 minutes) can make for a more productive and enjoyable experience.
Consider what condition your loved one is in. Some conditions such as contagious diseases or cognitive issues may limit how much time patients are able to spend with you.
Supporting a Loved One Remotely
There are many ways for you to support your loved ones from afar. For example, making phone and video calls, sending care packages, or sending a flower arrangement can provide a sense of comfort and connection.
Organizing Visits, Meals, and Rides
While the patient is in the hospital, you might consider arranging transportation for friends and relatives. Coordinating meals for drop-off with these various visitors will also help spread out the time between visits, ensuring your loved one is eating their favorite foods.
Organizing visits, meals, and rides may take a lot of work but it can be rewarding for everyone. Furthermore, if they’re in the hospital, give them some extra love and attention on special occasions such as their birthday or anniversary. A box bouquet of get-well flowers may brighten their day.
Here are some general hospital etiquette guidelines you should keep in mind:
Check-in with the hospital to confirm all plans; showing up unannounced is usually frowned upon. Ensure you're coming at a good time and that you're aware of any special instructions for your visit.
Keep cell phones on silent and never use your phone when visiting a patient. If you need to take a call, step out of the room to do so.
Make an effort to chat about their life before they were in the hospital, and avoid focusing on the medical condition.
Be as hygienic as possible, don't wear scents, and avoid bringing in pungent food or drinks.
- Limit how many people are visiting at once, and make sure all visitors know how the patient is feeling.
In general, if you're visiting a loved one in the hospital, make sure to check how they are doing and how they are feeling first. Then, if something seems amiss, or if you think your loved one needs some assistance, ask how you can help.
Though your loved ones may enjoy your frequent visits, they also need their privacy. Going through any type of treatment and general hospital care is often very tiring and invasive for the patient. When visiting a loved one in the hospital, make sure you're aware of how they're feeling and how often they want to talk about their condition.
Cleanliness and Healthiness
Hospital rooms and hallways are typically very clean to prevent the spread of contaminants and viruses. This is especially important for those with compromised immune systems. If you're visiting someone who is ill, ensure you're taking extra care to try to keep yourself clean and always assess your health beforehand.
If you find that you're sick, it's best to postpone your visit. Even if you're healthy, you should always wash your hands before and after your visit. You don't want to accidentally introduce bacteria or viruses to any patients or carry any pathogens home when you leave.
When talking to your loved one in the hospital, remember that they're still themselves. However, do try to keep your conversations light and positive — avoid bringing up sad memories or how they got to the hospital. If you want to discuss how serious their condition is, don't do it during your visit.
General tips and topics for talking to your loved ones in the hospital:
Be positive and talk about things unrelated to their health. Ask how they've been, how their family is doing, how work has been going. This might seem trivial to mention, but it can have a big impact on how your loved one feels during this time.
- It's also best to avoid talking about how you feel. Sometimes people don't want to talk or think about how others are feeling in the situation, so don't force it if they seem reluctant. Instead, try asking how their loved ones are doing.
Overall, try to keep in touch with how your loved one is doing. If they don't want to talk, let them be quiet and just enjoy the company.
When choosing how to express your care and support, always consider what the patient needs or wants. For some that may mean comfort items like a favorite blanket or pillow, for others, simply seeing a beautifully curated custom flower arrangement brings them joy.
Other appropriate hospital gifts may include:
- Gift baskets;
- Magazines, books, and puzzle books;
- DVDs, music CDs, and gift cards for iTunes/Netflix.
However, when bringing gifts and goodies, be aware of what cannot be brought to the hospital. Certain flowers have allergens that can be harmful to some patients. Ensure that the gift is safe for all recipients.
For instance, buying forever roses, which are kept at their peak beauty without allergens and last for at least a year, is a fantastic method to ensure that your flower arrangements are a success. Moreover, these long-lasting rose box bouquets are safely preserved with a non-toxic glycerin-based formula and dyed with food-safe colorant to ensure that any gift recipient can enjoy them without fear of harm or allergies.
Follow Their Lead
The greatest way to support a loved one during this trying time is to follow their lead. Of course, this means something different for every person, but it could be things like how long visits should last or how often they should occur and any type of communication they prefer or gifts they'd like. Whatever it may be, so long as you're respectful of your loved one, you're sure to provide the best support possible.
This also means that you must respect their choices for treatment and care. While you may be able to offer advice, ultimately the choice is theirs alone.
Visiting a loved one in the hospital can be a scary and stressful time for everyone involved. Still, by following these few guidelines, your visit can be a helpful, positive experience.