Visiting your loved one when they are in the hospital is never an easy situation—especially if it’s your first time doing so. If you’re planning on visiting someone, there are some things you’ll want to definitely consider, as well as things you’ll want to avoid, in order to make the visit as comfortable and positive for you and your loved one as possible. Here are five tips for visiting a loved one in the hospital that you may want to consider1:
1. Ask for permission: While most patients love to have visitors and see their loved ones, sometimes they just don’t feel up to it that day. Be sure to ask if it’s OK to visit that day. If it’s not, ask about the possibility of coming another day or if they would feel more comfortable seeing you when they are back home. Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t just stay home because you assume the person doesn’t want to be visited—it never hurts to ask!
2. Limit your visiting time: Avoid tiring out your loved one by limiting the length of time of your visit. You may only want to visit for 30 minutes to one hour at a time. Unless you are directly related to your loved one, you may want to consider leaving the room when the doctor or other medical professional enters the room to discuss treatment or private medical information.
3. Make sure you are healthy: If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be contagious, such as a runny nose, cough or a rash, you’ll want to avoid exposing your loved one and others in the hospital to these germs. It’d be a good idea to skip the hospital visit until you feel better and opt for sending a card or calling. Infections can come from any source, such as touching a TV remote or even your jacket. Be sure to wash your hands or sanitize before interacting with your loved one. If you smoke, don’t smoke before visiting your loved one. The smell of smoke can cause them to feel sicker, especially if they are taking certain medications that can increase their sense of smell, or if they are a current smoker, they may start to crave a cigarette.
4. Be considerate: If you carry a cell phone with you, make sure it is off or on vibrate. Many hospitals have certain areas where cell phones can’t be used because they can interfere with patient-care devices. If your loved one shares a room with another patient, you’ll want to make sure your phone doesn’t ring loudly when they are trying to sleep or rest. Bringing flowers or balloons is always a nice gesture. Make sure your loved one, and their roommate if they have one, isn’t allergic to them, though. An allergy to latex can be common—if you’re unsure, consider taking Mylar® balloons or another alternative.
5. Make your loved one feel comfortable: Small, inexpensive things can help boost your loved one’s morale while in the hospital. Instead of flowers or balloons, consider bringing them a book or magazine, their favorite crossword puzzles or even a new pair of slippers. When you visit, realize that your loved one is there to heal, not to entertain you. They may become too tired during your visit and would prefer to rest. Be sure to keep their stress level down as much as possible. If there is an underlying problem in your relationship with your loved one, you may want to wait until they are back home to work it out.
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