People often ask me to give them some guidance as they prepare to visit a friend in the hospital during the holidays, as I have spent Christmas at Magee as a patient on three separate occasions. Here are 5 tips that I hope you find helpful:
- Call ahead. Nobody likes someone to just show up at their house, and it’s the same for those in the hospital. I always appreciated visitors, but I appreciated them so much more when they called ahead, so we could talk about the best times to come, based on my schedule of therapy, nursing care, etc. That is your friend’s first priority, so please keep that in mind.
- Ask if they need anything from home. Our patients tend to be here for weeks, sometimes even months. There could be something from their house they can use, need, or just want, but there’s nobody to get it to them.
- Before bringing food, be sure you are aware of any dietary restrictions they might have. Just because you knew their favorite food before their injury, don’t assume it’s still safe to bring it without checking first. I was lucky that I had none, so was thrilled with almost everything that people brought (and so was my care team since I always shared with them!) But many of our patients do have restrictions, swallowing issues, etc. The worst thing you want to do is bring them something they’d love to have but can’t.
- Ask if there’s anyone they need to get a present or card for. Sometimes they might not even think of it, but it could be something that they ask themselves everyday: “How am I going to get my wife/husband their gift??”
- Lastly, know that time together is often the best gift of all. You don’t need to bring them a gift. Simply taking a few minutes out of your day around the holidays to spend it with a friend is an incredibly valuable gift. It’s even more valuable when that friend is in the hospital!
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!