There are many things to consider when visiting your loved one in a healthcare facility. You may even be planning a visit during this holiday season. Here are some useful tips for what to keep in mind to make the most of your time together.

Check the policy on flowers

Check the policy on flowers. Fresh flowers are typically prohibited in acute areas like ICUs, but are often allowed in nursing homes. Be sure to confirm the facility’s policy if you plan to bring flowers or a live plant. If plants are not permitted, bring plastic or fabric flowers. They can be just as beautiful and will bring your loved one joy for longer than the real thing.

Ask what’s allowed

Ask what’s allowed before bringing photo or video sharing equipment. Certain equipment may have to be inspected or might not be permitted. Rules vary by facility and level of care. The ideal solution is to transfer old photos and videos digitally to an iPhone or iPad for viewing at the bedside, but the facility may have a DVD player or other equipment for your use.

Understand your loved one’s dietary restrictions

Understand your loved one’s dietary restrictions before you bring treats. It’s heartbreaking to bring your loved one his or her favorite chocolate just to learn that it is prohibited in their diet. Avoid this by planning ahead. List a few of the patient’s favorite foods for the doctor or nurse. The clinician can select your best option or recommend an alternative treat if necessary.

Bring mementos that trigger happy memories.

Bring mementos that trigger happy memories.  A certain song can be a powerful trigger for a happy memory. Queue up your loved one’s favorite tune on your phone, and don’t forget to provide headphones. Personalized calendars can also remind patients of fond memories.

Be prepared to listen

Be prepared to listen. When a person is recovering from serious illness or injury, they can feel like they have lost some control of their physical abilities. Give them one of the best you can give by lending your ear. Allowing them to express their feelings can provide a lightness any time of year.

Consider these other gift ideas

Consider these other gift ideas: You can’t go wrong with a magazine subscription, sweater (all clothes should be machine washable), home-cooked meal (see above tip about dietary restrictions), framed photo, gift certificate to a facility add-on service (like a salon) or CDs.

By Margaret Schmidt