COVID-19 and How to Support a Loved One in the Hospital

This article is written by Frankie Wallace. 

It has been two years since the advent of COVID-19 changed our world. But as much as we all yearn for an end to the pandemic, the reality is that new variants continue to emerge and hundreds of thousands of people each day are falling ill, some proportion of whom will be hospitalized.

But when it’s your loved one who is sick in the hospital with COVID, those statistics suddenly take on a new meaning. When it’s someone you love, all that matters is helping see them through this crisis, all that matters is ensuring they return home healthy.

And yet, if your loved one has coronavirus, you are likely to be quite limited in your visits and your interactions. If you are allowed to visit at all, it may only be for a brief amount of time and you will almost certainly be required to mask up and maintain social distancing. So how do you provide comfort and support for a hospitalized loved one under such difficult conditions?

1. Adhere to Hospital Regulations

No one knows your loved one better or loves them more than you do, so when they’re sick, it can be difficult to submit to someone else’s policies regarding if, when, and how you can be with them. But one of the first and most important things you can do when you want to support your dear one while they’re in the hospital fighting COVID is to adhere to hospital regulations.

Those hospital policies, after all, didn’t just emerge in a vacuum. They are the result of the most up-to-date information gleaned by public health officials, clinicians, and researchers and how best to care for the sick and protect the well. For example, epidemiologists devote their careers to understanding infectious diseases such as COVID-19 in order not only to slow the spread but, ultimately, to eradicate them or render them harmless. Hospital policies and protocols are the product of this assiduous study by experts in the field of communicable disease.

So take care to familiarize yourself with hospital policies, particularly those concerning visitation for COVID patients, and try to comply assiduously with them, not only for your own sake and the sake of your family but also to support the recovery of your loved one and the other patients in their ward.

2. Being There When You Can’t Be There

Unfortunately, the transmissibility of the virus often means that visitation is severely restricted and frequently prohibited entirely. Not being able to be together when someone you love is ill is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this disease, but there are still many things that you can do to “be with” your loved one even when you can’t physically be at their bedside.

Today’s technology is ideal for such purposes. They truly are the next best thing to being there, because with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop you and your loved one can see and hear one another in real-time.

And because the technology is, in most cases, very reliable and very user-friendly, it’s not hard to spend lots of quality time with your loved one, watching movies, chatting, or even playing online games, through video conferencing. One caveat, however: Because hospital wards are so busy, it’s important to understand the daily care schedule and to try to connect with your loved one during their downtime.

COVID-19 and How to Support a Loved One in the Hospital | The Health Sessions
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3. Sending Comfort

Connecting with your dear one through in-person or virtual visits is far from the only way to show your support. In fact, one of the best ways to remind them of how much they are loved and needed is to send meaningful gifts that can provide both comfort and distraction.

For instance, you might send your loved one cherished photo albums or scrapbooks for them to enjoy anytime they need a little pick-me-up. You can also make sure they have a favorite blanket, nightgown, or other personal items to help them regain a sense of home and familiarity.

And in addition to those sentimental pieces, you can also load your loved one up with thoughtful gifts that you know they’ll appreciate. If they’re a movie or music fan, you can hook them up with an easy-to-use tablet and a Netflix or iTunes subscription. If they’re an avid reader, trick them out with an e-reader like Kindle and an e-book subscription.

And if your loved one isn’t the techy sort, then go old-school: Print books and magazines, crossword puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles can be great ways to pass the time while recovering in the hospital. Best of all, they’re a constant reminder for your dear one that you love them and are thinking of them.

It’s also important to remember that if your loved one is battling coronavirus, they’re inevitably going to experience difficult symptoms, such as joint pain and fatigue. Talk to your loved one about what they are feeling and, whenever possible, gift them with items that can make them more comfortable. If your loved one is battling the terrible tiredness of the virus, consider providing a sleep mask and earplugs to help them rest better while in the hospital. If they’re having pain, you might provide a heating pad or heat pack to give some relief. It’s important, though, to check with your relative’s healthcare provider to ensure the item is safe for them to use.

The Takeaway

There are few experiences in life more challenging than the illness of someone you love. But if your loved one is hospitalized with COVID-19, there are many ways you can show support and provide comfort. From in-person and virtual visits to thoughtful gifts, you can always let your dear one know how very much they are loved. And there’s nothing more healing than that.

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