Health Advocate Blog

Supporting loved ones in the hospital

When someone you care about is in the hospital, it can be challenging not only for them, but for their loved ones and primary caregiver.

What should I say?  How often should I visit? What should I bring? Here are some tips on how to provide a little burst of sunshine.

  • Bring reading material. Since they may not be up for reading a full-blown novel, bring some magazines or crossword puzzle books for lighter entertainment.
  • Laughter is the best medicine. Bring your laptop and watch a favorite comedy or other movie together.
  • “Go fish”…or be at “war.”  Bring a deck of cards. Board games or crossword puzzles can also be fun entertainment.
  • Bring a personal touch. Would a photograph of their children, spouse, or pet give them comfort? If so, think about bringing one with you.
  • Call before you come. Some people may feel self-conscious if they aren’t able to prepare themselves before a visitor arrives. Call ahead so they know when you’re coming.
  • The power of touch.  As long as it’s safe, offer a hand, foot, shoulder or scalp massage to relieve a little tension.
  • Help outside the hospital.  Do your loved one’s plants need to be watered, or their newspaper brought inside? Offering to help with tasks like these can make their life easier.
  • Help them look good and feel good.  Consider bringing their favorite shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand lotion, bath robe, lip balms, and other personal care items.

Don’t forget the caregiver

If you’re not the primary caregiver, there are many ways you can help ease any tension or stress for that important person.

  • Give them a break.  Caregiving can be stressful.  Offer to hang out at the hospital so the caregiver can escape for a while to recharge.
  • Bring some favorite foods. Chances are, the caregiver has been in the hospital eating nothing but hospital food.  Bring some takeout from their favorite restaurant, or a healthy homemade soup.
  • Run errands. The caregiver has a home life too. Is there anything you can do to help, such as bringing in the mail, dropping off the dry cleaning or walking the dog? 

Helping loved ones who are recovering in the hospital may be easier than you think. Providing few loving gestures is all it takes to contribute something meaningful.