How to | My Thoughts on Life

Tips for Visiting Friends and Family in the Hospital

Bring water with you to the hospital and drink it!

If you have a friend or family member that will be in the hospital for an extended stay you probably will want to visit them.  Some hospitals have very specific rules for visitors, SUNY Upstate requires a photo ID.  Different hospitals have different requirements for visitors, so please check your hospital web site for details.  The hospital web site might also tell you what services, such as ATMs, are available at the hospital.

When my boss was hospitalized we were all very concerned about her, but unprepared for how horrible she looked.  Remember, if they are in the hospital they are sick and won’t look as healthy as they normally do.  They don’t want to see that reflected in your face, so try to prepare yourself.

It’s a lovely gesture to bring flowers, a plant, or chocolate.  Check ahead with the family or nurses and be sure the patient can eat chocolate or has space for the flowers or plant.  Hospital rooms nowadays are VERY small.  If you select flowers, bring a vase that has a small base.  Even if they eat chocolate at home the hospital may have restricted their diet.  Don’t bring fast food into the hospital room, the patient won’t be allowed to eat it and you are just tempting them.  Eat your lunch before you visit them.

Again, hospital rooms are very small and only one or two people can visit comfortably. If you know the family, check with them and see if you can visit and give them a day off of visiting.  They can use the time to sleep or attend to work or household demands.

Visiting on a regular or daily basis? If you are family or a medical proxy you may be there when the doctors and nurses give medical updates.  Remember to bring a pad of paper and pen with you and write down what the doctors and nurses say.  The patient is sick and on medication and may ask you hours or days later about what the doctor said.   Bring a bottle of water with you and try to drink all of it during your visit.  This will keep you hydrated and you’ll feel better.   If you sit for too long you’ll get tired quickly, every hour or so get up and walk up and down the hall.  It’s not the same as regular exercise but it will keep you from getting stiff.  Bring a book or a compact project with you, there will be a lot of down time and there is no need to sit and stare at the patient while they sleep.  Remember they are here for medical treatment and rest and may not feel well enough for conversation.

Today’s hospitals have well stocked cafeterias that are open to visitors.  Find out what times the hospital cafeteria is open and be sure to eat regularly.  They usually offer hot meals and a well stocked salad bar.  Stay away from the dessert bar and your body will thank you later!

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  1. This is great advice! I remember sitting at the hospital around the clock during and after my mom’s 13 hour brain surgery. I wish I would have brought something to do or read. Twelve years later and Mom is still here and doing well!

    1. 13 hours, that’s an awful long time to wait for results! Glad your Mom is doing so well.

  2. I brought along some lotion and some lip balm for my aunt when she was in hospital too. the air there is usually very dry, so anything to help chapped lips and sore skin is nice to bring along (clear it with the doctor first, for lotions)

    When I have been in hospital I always appreciate warm socks, anything warm really. Those rooms can be kind of chilly!

    1. Great tips, of course we need to clear any lip balm or lotion with the doctors. Our hospital supplied socks with nonskid bottoms for all their patients, which was wonderful!

      1. those are really good. yeah you have to ask but usually the doctors say go ahead, and I know how chappy that air can make you!

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