Last year, I spent 165 days in the hospital, and visits from friends and family were something I really enjoyed….well, most of the time! In order to be sure the person you want to visit will really enjoy seeing you, here are some helpful tips.
- Plan your visit ahead of time. At Magee, patients are typically involved in therapy a minimum of 2-3 hours a day, making unplanned visits a challenge. In order to be sure you can maximize your time with the patient, always call, email, or text ahead of time, asking if the time you are planning to come is good for the patient. Remember, just because a friend or family member is in the hospital, it doesn’t mean that they are just laying in bed doing nothing. Our patients work hard in therapy, and they are not always in their rooms.
- Ask about visiting around a meal time. If that works for both of you, and the patient doesn’t have a diet restriction (which you also need to ask about first!), offer to bring in their favorite food or something they have been craving. Our food at Magee is good, but I always appreciated it when someone brought me something I hadn’t had in a while. Plus I enjoyed being able to share a meal with others.
- Ask if there is anything the patient would like you to bring. Most of the time my response would be “No, I am good, but thanks for asking,” but there were times that I asked for something other than food, like a magazine. Remember that your friend or family member doesn’t have access to everything that they usually do, so asking this question could really make them smile and make you look like the great person you are!
- Don’t stay too long. What is too long? That’s a hard question to answer because every patient – and their schedule – is different, but keeping visits to a reasonable amount of time makes them, and you, appreciated! Also, be mindful that meal times in hospitals might be very different than at home, so if food gets delivered to the room while you are there, realize that it won’t stay hot forever, and let your friend or family member enjoy it while they can.
I was blessed with visits from friends and family who I love spending time with, and it usually worked out well for all of us because I let them know my schedule and my preferences. That also led me to really enjoy the time we spent together.
Maybe you are reading this and have some other thoughts you think would be helpful? Please share them as a comment below. Most importantly, showing that you care, no matter how you do it, is something people value and appreciate. So, even if it doesn’t work out for you to visit a loved one, reaching out in any way you can can certainly brighten their day!