According to researchers at Ohio State University, they found patients who have contact with friends and family members while recovering from surgery have less nerve-related pain. Researchers have also found that mice heal at a faster rate from injury when they have companionship, versus being isolated. The results from these two studies show the importance of physical contact and actually visiting a loved one in a hospital.
Visiting a family member or friend in the hospital is not always easy. Often times you will not know what to expect when you visit a loved one for the first time in a hospital. In other situations were the person has been bed ridden in a hospital for a long time, you might become numb to the situation, and emotionally distant. Either way it can be physically and emotionally draining for everyone involved, which is why it is important to follow these tips.
1. Get Permission
Before visiting someone in the hospital, it is important that you ask if they want visitors, and at what time. In most instances the person will love to have family and friends visit, there will be other times when they might not feel up to it. This is perfectly acceptable, and should not be taken personally.
The person in the hospital might also have more energy during certain parts of the day, and will be more inclined to have guest during this period of time. Permission should also be granted by the hospital, as some hospitals are stricter than others about guest visitation hours. Do not stay home and not visit because you assume they do not want visitors, it never hurts to ask.
2. Make the Person Feel Comfortable
Often times the person who is bed ridden might feel embarrassed about their current situation. They are most likely weak, and most have not had the chance for much personal hygiene. The loved one might look much more disheveled, and might not feel very attractive. For these reasons it is important to be sensitive to their needs. Now is not the time to be judgmental. This is also another reason to give the person in the hospital advanced notice of a visit to allow them to gather themselves, and prepare in whatever little way they can.
3. Be Considerate
Before visiting it is a good time to ask if the person in the hospital needs anything from their house or apartment. Also bringing an inexpensive gift such as a
- crossword puzzles
- phone charger
- snacks (only if they are allowed to eat the food)
While in the room with the loved one, it is important to practice good beside etiquette. This includes asking if they person needs anything, not being distracted on your phone, and not acting bored or uninterested while in the hospital room. If their was ever a time to show that you care, that time is now.
Small gestures, whether good or bad can go a long way, which is why it is important to be mindful of how you act around your loved one who is in the hospital. 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 healthy, and back home to work it out. Also it is a good idea to give the person privacy if a doctor or nurse comes in to give medical attention.
4. Limit Time
It is important to realize that your loved one is in the hospital to heal, not to entertain you when you arrive. Limiting visits to an hour or less might be necessary depending on the person and their health.
Ordinarily the person might be thrilled to spend hours chatting with you, but this might not be the case while they are in the hospital. Whether due to the injury/disease, or the medications, they most likely don’t have the energy to sustain any kind of social activities for long. Furthermore, the more rest they get, the quicker their road to recovery will be!
5. Don’t Be Sick
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 would be a good idea to skip the hospital visit and opt for sending a card or calling. Infections can come from any source, such as touching a door knob or handling a phone, and are so easy to spread.
Be sure to wash your hands before interacting with your loved one. Avoid smoking before visiting your loved one, as the smell of smoke can cause nausea; especially considering some medications can actually increase the sense of smell.
Following these tips will hopefully make your hospital visit stress free, and more comfortable for everybody.