Thoughtful Gestures

We’re often struck by an urge to “do something” when we hear about a friend, colleague or family member who is in in the hospital. That urge can turn to inaction when we’re not sure what’s permissible or acceptable to do. Simply saying, “let me know if I can help,” is a nice offer, but not a very effective one. Be specific in your suggestion of assistance and there will be a much better chance your help will be accepted—and appreciated. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Bring in crosswords, puzzle books (word find, Sudoku, etc.), books, CDs, DVDs, or the patient’s favorite board game
  • Offer to do personal laundry for the patient or the other people in his or her household
  • Make a special meal to bring to the patient, if allowed
  • Bring food or treats to the nursing station to show appreciation to the staff
  • Offer to run errands or handle chores such as lawn care or snow removal for the patient

A note about flowers: They can be a wonderful way to brighten spirits and freshen up a hospital room, but some patients can’t have them for health reasons. Check first to see if they are allowed, and if so, skip any that spread pollen.