Choose the right time.,
Find out if visits are welcome.,
Assess your own health.,
Anticipate a rollercoaster of emotions.,
Find a support system.,
Take good care of yourself.,
Bring a gift.,
Offer unwavering support.,
Arrange for another caregiver’s visit.,
Take breaks periodically.,
Be kind and responsive.
Before you visit the hospital, you should check to see when visiting hours are at that facility. Most hospitals have evening hours to accommodate working visitors, but some hospitals or even some specialized departments or floors, such as the intensive care unit, may have restrictive schedules.Call ahead with the name of the patient you wish to visit to confirm the location of the patient and the visiting hours for that ward.;
, In addition to checking on visiting hours, you should also check to see if there are any restrictions for that particular patient. Some individuals recovering from surgery or suffering from certain conditions need extra rest, while others at risk of infection may have limited or restricted visitations put in place.Some patients may not be physically or mentally capable of having visitors. This could be for a variety of reasons, and it’s important to be respectful of those reasons.
The person may be on isolation precautions, meaning you will have to take special steps before entering the room. Speak to a nurse to find out if you need to wear a mask, protective gown, gloves, or other protective equipment. The nurse will be able to provide you with these items and instruct you on proper use. It’s important you follow directions exactly, to protect bot the patient and yourself.Call the hospital and ask to speak with a nurse working on your patient’s floor. Ask the nurse whether it would be okay to visit, and provide a rough time frame you’d like to visit.
, Even if there are no restrictions on visitation, some patients may not want to be seen while they recover in the hospital. Before you plan a visit, make sure that your presence would be well received.
Check in with the patient or her family to see if she wants visitors while staying in the hospital.
If the patient does not want visitors, be respectful of her wishes. You can always send a card or get-well package through the mail or ask the patient’s family to deliver it for you.
, If you’re ill and there’s a risk you might spread an infection or disease to the patient, it is best to postpone your visit. Patients in the hospital often have compromised immune systems, and exposure to even minor germs could lead to infections, complications, and potentially a prolonged illness for someone with an already diminished condition.If you’re ill, you are better off staying out of the hospital for both yourself and the patient. Consider a phone call or video chat instead.
Even if you’re healthy, you should wash your hands before and after visiting the hospital, in particular when you enter and exit the patient’s room. You could accidentally introduce bacteria or viruses to patients inside the hospital, or you could inadvertently carry a serious pathogen home with you when you leave the hospital.
When you wash your hands, use soap and clean, running water for a total of 20 seconds.You may also wish to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands.
, If the individual you’re visiting suffers from a debilitating condition or life-threatening illness, you may find it comforting to learn as much as you can about that individual’s condition. This may give you a sense of peace, relief from your anxiety, or at least some knowledge of what’s to come.Start out by only reading credible medical articles. You can find a wealth of information on websites run by hospitals, medical schools, and medical care centers, such as the Mayo Clinic or Medline Plus.
You can also find endless information in print form. Check your local library for medical textbooks and journals, then research the condition or illness for which your friend or relative is being treated.
Once you’ve read some credible medical information, it may be comforting to read some personal accounts that talk about that condition/illness. Look for memoirs or even personal online blogs that discuss that condition or illness. Online forums specific to the illness often have good discussions and information.
, Even the most emotionally strong individual may feel grief, stress, or frustration at seeing a friend or relative in the hospital. Your mood may change before, during, or after your visit, and it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling about the situation at any given time so you can better manage your emotions.Remember that everyone deals with crisis situations differently. You may be able to maintain your composure and handle the situation, or you may grow anxious, frightened, or even angry.
These feelings may change as the patient’s health improves, declines, or alternates between improvement and decline.
, If you’re feeling emotionally upset about a friend or loved one’s hospitalization, talking with others can help. Some people you talk to may have input on how you can handle the situation better, while others may simply be there to lend an ear when you need to vent.You can speak with family and friends about any concerns you have, especially if those friends or relatives are also close with the patient you’re going to visit.
If you have deeper-seated emotional concerns, you may want to consider speaking with a therapist or a clergy member (if you are religious).
, Journaling is an excellent way to process your emotions and navigate the way you think and feel. When someone you know is hospitalized, journaling can help you work through the confusion and make sense of your emotional response.You can write anything you want in your journal. You don’t have to show it to anyone, and you can even destroy the page when you’re finished.
Try to be consistent in your journaling. Since your feelings may change as the days or weeks go on, it can be helpful to make a daily habit of reflecting and writing.
You can buy any type of journal you want, from a simple spiral-bound notebook to an elegant leather-bound book of blank pages; however, you may want to consider portability and ease of access when you’re deciding on a notebook.
It may be easier for you to journal on your phone or tablet. There are many apps that allow you to keep a journal on your devices.
, Visiting or taking care of someone in the hospital can be very stressful, and that stress can take a toll on your health if you’re not careful. By taking good care of yourself, you can stay in a good physical and mental/emotional state while you process what’s happened to your friend or loved one.
Exercise regularly. This can help you burn off some energy or stress and stay healthy. Even walking around the hospital can help.Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. While vending machines are convenient, they mostly contain junk food and you’ll need proper nutrition, including a balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Get adequate rest. Remember that most adults need at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night, while some adults may need even more sleep.Do things to help you relax and deal with your stress. Even if you can’t leave the hospital, bring books, magazines, crafts, and other things to keep yourself busy and take your mind off of things.
, When you go to visit someone in the hospital, it’s often customary to bring some type of gift. This can be a simple “get well” card, a stuffed animal, mylar balloons (latex balloons are often not allowed due to allergy concerns), or something else entirely.Some hospitals allow cut flowers but not potted plants, particularly in certain departments of the hospital. Contact the hospital first to ensure that your gift is acceptable in a patient’s room.
Try to base your gift on the individual’s tastes.
Choose a gift that will cheer up the individual. For example, if you know the person is an avid hiker and camper who is eager to get back on the trail, you may want to bring something that will make her think of hiking or camping.
Consider bringing something that will help the person pass the time, such as a book of crossword puzzles, magazines, a book, or some other activity.
If you know an image or object might upset the patient, you should avoid bringing anything that might be a reminder of that image or object. For example, if the individual will never be able to walk or ride a bike again, bringing reminders of these activities could be upsetting.
, Someone who is hospitalized may be dealing with a lot of physical discomfort and/or mental or emotional trauma. She may need someone to run errands or check on her home for her, but more than anything she’ll probably need emotional support during this difficult time.Anticipate that the patient may be feeling a range of emotions. She may be feeling hopeful, fearful, angry, or she may even be in denial.
Never tell the individual how she should feel. Simply accept the way she’s feeling without criticism or interrogation.
Ask the individual if she wants to talk about what she is going through. Don’t unload your grief or fear on the patient, as she has enough to deal with on her own.
Let the patient know that you’re available to talk anytime. Even if she doesn’t want to discuss what she’s going through now, that may change with time. Make sure she has your contact information so she can reach you in case she wants to talk later.
If the patient has a chronic illness/condition or will be going through a prolonged recovery period, be sure that you continue to offer support over the long-term. Many people will be there at first, but your friend or relative will need support down the line.
, If you are planning on staying with the patient and being his caregiver, you may find yourself physically and emotionally exhausted after a certain period of time. That’s when it becomes helpful to have someone else to give you some time off.Talk to other friends or family members of the patient to coordinate schedules. Let each other know when you’re available and what shifts would work best.
Once you’ve worked out a schedule, let the patient know who will be staying in the hospital and when. Having a schedule in mind may help give the patient some sense of normalcy.
, Even if you’re staying at the hospital to be by your friend or loved one’s side, you’ll need to get away from time to time. Taking little breaks throughout the day to step outside the hospital can help you manage the way you’re feeling and provide some relief from the stress and tedium of being in a hospital.Going for a walk, getting yourself some food or coffee, or simply stepping outside to talk on the phone can help give you a mental break from the stress of being in the hospital.
Let the individual know that you’ll be back, and try to provide a rough time estimate. This can help put an anxious hospital patient a bit more at ease.
, When you visit someone who is ill or infirm, you may be at a loss for what to talk about. It can be difficult to tell whether you should be somber or upbeat, but the best approach is to see how the hospitalized individual is feeling and base your own responses on her outlook.Don’t point out that the patient looks ill, injured, or otherwise unwell. Likewise, avoid talking about the procedure/surgery unless the patient wants to talk about it.
Focus on the patient’s treatment and recovery. Try to remain positive so that the patient can keep a healthy, positive attitude.
If the patient is feeling sad or hopeless, try to lift her spirits. Talk about fun or humorous memories and try to get her to think about the fun times you’ll have in the future once she is feeling better.