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In the past year both of my parents have underwent surgery due to cancer. This means that I have spent a lot of time in the hospital and waiting rooms in the last few months. In that time I’ve come to realize that there are some things you can do to make your time or your loved one’s time in a hospital easier, whether you are a patient or visitor.
10 Tips for When a Loved One is in the Hospital
1. Designate A Family Contact Person
To avoid sending out lots of text messages or making numerous phone calls with updates on a family member’s condition it helps to designate one person to act as your contact person. You can call or text that person and they can pass the updates on to other friends and family members.
2. Use Social Media to Update Friends and Family
If you have a large family or a large group of people who want to be updated, social media makes it easy to keep them updated on your family member’s condition. While both of my parents were in the hospital I needed to update friends, family, and our church. It was much easier to post occasional updates on Facebook than it was send individual messages to everyone. *Make sure it is okay with your loved one to post updates on their status.*
3. Create a Hospital Survival Kit
Hospital food is not that great and vending machines can get expensive. If you have a loved one in the hospital you can create a survival kit for them and anyone staying with them. Before my mom’s recent hospital stay I went to the Dollar Tree and put together a survival kit for her and my dad, who would be staying with her. I used one of the reusable market bags from the Dollar Tree to hold everything but you could use a gift bag or any other easy to carry bag.
Some items you might want to include are:
*Sugar Free Candy (if they are diabetic)
*Word Search or Sudoku Puzzle Books
*OTC Medications (pain medication, heartburn medication, allergy medication, etc.)
*Books or Amazon Gift Cards to Download Kindle Books
4. Become Familiar With Your Surroundings
I work at a hospital and every day patient’s family members stop by my office because they are looking for something. If you will be spending time in the hospital as a visitor, take the time to find some important locations in the hospital. Those might include:
*Exit to the parking lot
5. Ask Questions
Throughout your loved one’s stay in the hospital, medical staff will be coming in to speak to you and the patient frequently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they give you information about your loved one’s condition and you don’t understand the terms that they use, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
6. Take Notes
It’s handy to keep a notepad and pen nearby or use an app on your phone to take notes. Often you or your loved one will think of something that you want to ask the doctor or nurse when they come in. Use your notepad or app to write down your questions. Often medical staff, especially doctors, are in a hurry when they come in your room. Having your questions already written down will help you remember to ask them. Also you can use your notepad to take notes when staff come in to talk to you. They may give you information about things that you could expect after discharge, care instructions, etc. Writing down that information will ensure that you don’t forget it. If there will be multiple family members who are taking turns staying with your loved one it is a good idea to have a notebook so that one person doesn’t forget to pass on crucial information to other family members.
7. Wear Comfortable Clothing
If you will be spending time in a hospital as a visitor wear comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes. Those shoes may look really cute and stylish but when you have to walk all over the hospital and parking garage for a few days you will be wishing you had more comfortable shoes!
8. Tag Team
If your loved one will be in the hospital for an extended time period have someone who can switch places with you to stay at the hospital with your loved one. If you are exhausted yourself, you will not be much help to your loved one. Having another person who can stay with your loved one will allow you time to rest and stay healthy yourself.
9. Pay Attention to Visiting Hours
If you are not the person who is staying with your loved one and you are just going to visit, pay attention to the hospital’s visiting hours. Also, if you are just visiting, keep your visit brief. Your loved one most likely needs to rest and may not feel like having a room full of visitors who stay for hours.
10. Don’t Visit If You Are Sick
If you are sick, don’t visit your loved one in the hospital. A simple phone call to them to let them know that you care will be good. Many hospitals have rules about visitors who may be sick. What may just be a minor cold to you could become something much worse to a patient who already has a compromised immune system.