10 Ways to Make a Loved-One's Hospital Stay More Comfortable

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Reasons for hospital stays range from happy occasions, such as the birth of a child, to emotional and frightening emergency medical situations. Either way, a stay in a hospital can be stressful on both the patient and their family. Read on for tips on how you can be a pleasant helper, rather than a burden.

Be an advocate

Despite trying their best, hospital staff are often overworked and understaffed. During your visit, try to act as an advocate for your loved one by being willing to walk to the nurse's station to ask questions if needed.

Bring a Touch of Home

If the hospital allows them, touches from home, such as a pillow, throw blanket, or photo of family can go a long way toward making a hospital room seem more homey.

Call ahead

It's hard to be modest in the hospital. Flimsy gowns, long trailing tubes, and doctor's examinations can mean you're showing more skin than you're used to. Calling ahead before you visit a friend or family member gives them time to prepare for your visit.

Short is sweet

It's hard to get a good night's sleep in the hospital, and that, combined with fatiguing medications and illnesses means your loved one is likely to need more rest than normal. Keep your visits short if you feel the patient is tired.

Remember the caregiver

Patients aren't the only people worn out by a hospital stay. Caregivers are often emotionally and physically tired too. When you visit, offer to give them a break to run an errand or to have some time alone. If possible, bring the caregiver something to eat as well, since they're often not included in hospital meals.

Think outside the bud

Flowers are a classic gift, but they're not exactly original. Consider bringing gifts that may give the patient and caregivers a reprieve from boredom.

Reader's Experience: "I once had a visitor who brought me a bag full of the most wonderful gifts. She'd cut out some quizzes from goofy magazines, crossword puzzles, and scratch-off lottery tickets. It was a fun way to pass a few hours. Oh, and I won $25!" - Elizabeth

Put your best face forward

It can be hard to keep emotions in check when someone is gravely ill, but being a weepy mess will only bring discomfort to everyone. Try to leave your sorrow at the hospital room door.

Reader's Experience: "After my seizure I had some friends who couldn't keep from bursting into tears every time they saw me. Frankly, it was unhelpful. I needed people to encourage me to keep getting well, or to offer gentle understanding, not hysterics." - Daniel

Understand your strengths

Not everyone is cut out to be the type of hospital visitor who fluffs pillows or offers engaging conversation, but that doesn't mean everyone can't be helpful in their own way. Consider your strengths and work from those. Maybe you'll be a person who can be relied on to run errands, pick up mail, or tend to pets while everyone else is on hospital duty.

TLC never hurts

Very few people claim that hospital accomodations are really comfortable. If you're looking for something to do for your loved one, good old TLC never hurts. Bring some nice smelling lotion and offer a hand or foot massage, or even an amateur manicure. Touch has a long history of contributing to healing.

Remember the real world

Life doesn't stop during a hospital stay. Bills pile up, the grass grows, food goes bad, and dust bunnies multiply. Your loved one and their family will still need help when they get home, too. Offer to run errands, grocery shop, or help around the house if you can.

We Want Your Tips!

Do you have any tips for making someone else's hospital stay easier? What about easing your own stay? Head here to let us know what you think and we may use your story in a future slideshow.