Tips For When You Aren’t Able To Visit

By: Ariel Fixler

Many of the people with whom I never got to have visits were able to come to my aid just much as those I had one-on-one time with. There are many things you can do to make a patient feel loved and taken care of. Some people weren’t able to deal with illness and see me in a declined and jaundiced state. Some people become freaked out about illness in general and do not know how to act or be. Some lived across the country or the world. I could tell people wanted to support me, but being front and center was either not for them or something they could not actively undertake. They were best being supportive from a distance, perhaps as pen pals or doing drop offs.

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I accepted all the different types of support. I took their offers as only genuine and appreciated every outreach for help.

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Here is a TLC list for those who want to do more and cannot visit:

  1. Arrange for a cleaning service or housekeeper to clean the patient’s apartment while the patient is in the hospital, so they can return to clean, peace and comfort. Have the cleaning person make a list of what was moved around in the apartment. Why? So the patient (who may be weak and highly medicated upon his/her return home) will not become even more confused or frustrated. Get things like paper towels, napkins, and plastic wear (so they don’t have to worry about doing dishes), toilet paper, trash bags and air fresheners. Buy cleaning items for the next time you arrange a cleaning service for them, preferably organic or eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies. Many cleaning services require you to provide products.
  1. Get the patient’s mail and go through their bills and see what needs to be taken care of. Post any greeting cards or invitations on their fridge. You may ask if they’d like some type of fabric, cork or magnetic bulletin board within easy view of their bed or favorite chair.
  1. Go grocery shopping for the patient. Stock up on items for nausea, like ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger chews and saltines. Stock up on immunity support items like, tea, chicken noodle/rice soup or broth and holistic immunity boosting supplements from Whole Foods or a health food store or online. You can help set up regular delivery schedule online with Amazon or local stores.
  1. Ask them if they need films/TV shows downloaded, need a tether or booster for better Internet for streaming (most hospital internet is VERY slow and in the ER it is non-existent). Ask if they have or need a Netflix account, HBO go account, Amazon prime account, Showtime account, Hulu, the list goes. If they don’t, perhaps some friends can chip-in instead of flowers, balloons, etc.  Or go the old school route (no digital steaming). Ask if they need a DVD player and DVDs. See if you can record things on their DVR for them that is ready to go/be played upon their return home.  Some recordings can be done remotely with the proper apps.  Downloads of favorite podcasts and music are also a treat, especially for tired eyes or to lift a mood.