Often, visiting a sick friend or relative can be an awkward experience. Most of us do not have any particular training in this field and are often at a loss for something to say or are on “pins and needles” because we are afraid we might say the wrong thing.
Many patients in hospitals or at home appreciate their friends’ and family members’ visits but sometimes they’d just like to rest and would rather not have visitors.
If it’s possible, always make an effort to ask for a patient’s and/or immediate family’s permission to visit before showing up. The patients’ needs are more important than yours when it comes to visitation, so you should respect them.
At times people believe they should be able to make the person feel better or do something to relieve their suffering.
They feel guilty if they cannot do this or sometimes feel guilty as well as relieved that they, themselves, are well.
For the person who is ill, the emotional pain is often worse than the physical pain which can be awful too.
Feeling isolated, which is different from wanting to be alone can make an illness worse. Your attention should be focused on what “they” need.
A good way to open the discussion and find out what the patients needs may be is, “how I can be helpful… is there something I can do that would make you feel better?” It may difficult for your friend or relative to answer.
After all, most of us are taught not to burden others with our problems.
It may surprise you to learn that, most often, what the person needs is for someone to just listen emphatically.
One of the biggest blessings for anyone is someone trustworthy and caring to talk to.
Fight the urge to ask a lot of questions. Sure you care and want to know about the prognosis and progress of the patient.
But remember that many people are very private when it comes to their health. Be respectful of their right to privacy and do not pry.
Allow them to share with you what they want to tell you.
Also, don’t be a messenger of doom and gloom.
Okay you had a cousin that had the same condition and passed away as a result. This is not the time to share this story.
Instead, be positive and encouraging no matter the situation.
Visiting a sick person at home or in the hospital for a short period of time can lift someone’s spirits but not if they have to “entertain” you or “fix themselves up in anticipation of your visit” which uses up much of their needed, and often, diminished energy.
Pay attention to the patient’s words and actions so that you’ll pick up on signs that he or she would like to have some time alone to rest.
It’s advisable to visit more frequently and stay for shorter periods of time than it is to stay longer.
Visiting when you’re sick is also bad idea; you don’t want to risk an already sick person catching whatever you have.
Simply keep these tips in mind when visiting someone who is sick and you’ll make things easier on both you and the patient.
Your loved one will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to ensure his or her comfort.
For further information about Caregiving support groups in your area and/or if you have any questions/concerns, contact Jas Cheema, MA Caregiving Support Coordinator; White Rock, Surrey Comeshare Society at 604-531-9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org