How to Offer Love and Connection When You Can’t Visit a Loved One in the Hospital

Sometimes we can’t visit loved ones in a hospital because of the health risk to the patient or to ourselves. For all of us here at the Acuity family, we know how difficult it can be while unable to visit sick and recovering loved ones in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still offer hope and connection! . Here are a few tips to help you cope and connect with your loved ones when you can’t be there in person. 

Remember self-care

It’s very important to maintain your overall wellness during high-stress situations. Supporting your loved one while they are ill or in recovery can be difficult if you’re not well yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. Taking care of ourselves is one way we can show love to others. Try including some self-care activities into your daily routine, such as:

  • Exercise. Maintaining your physique is good for both your physical and mental health. Exercise strengthens and tones your muscles, increases energy, and improves overall bodily functions. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals, such as endorphins, that act as natural pick-me-ups. You might enjoy telling your recovering loved one all about the new exercise routine you’ve picked up, and how it’s going.
  • Healthy diet. Ensuring you keep to a healthy, well-balanced diet means your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Our bodies need those vitamins for maintaining both mental and physical health. Without them, you can experience worsening mood symptoms and higher levels of anxiety or depression. Maybe your loved one would enjoy a photo of a new dish you made? 
  • Abstaining or reducing alcohol intake. Alcohol is a natural depressant and can do more harm than good during stressful situations. Try to avoid any substances that act as system depressors. 
  • Talk to someone. Sometimes all it takes is talking to a close friend and getting everything off your chest. As caregivers, we sometimes forget that we need a supportive ear too. Remember to nurture your other relationships and fill your time communicating with others. Support is only a phone call away.
  • Engage in hobbies. Try spending your time engaged in your passions or hobbies. The normal pace of life can often get in the way of our favorite activities, or sometimes we give up our free time as caregivers. Instead, why not use it as a point of connection? Teach someone to crochet over video, or send a copy of a new book that you can both discuss. 

Use alternative methods of communication

Technology has a way of connecting us in a way humans never have before. While you can’t physically visit someone in the hospital, you can still feel the connection with some virtual face-to-face time. With the use of video chats, you can see your loved one and be able to spend some quality time with them. Moments like those of seeing the smile on the face of a loved one can be a huge help to a recovering friend or family member— and to you, too! 

Another alternative to in-person visits are handwritten letters or cards! Those from previous generations may sometimes miss the personal touch of a thoughtful handwritten note, even just a simple one to let them know you’ve been thinking of them. Plus, it gives them something cheerful to display in their room and remind them of your connection.

When reaching out, try keeping spirits high and being positive to reduce current stressors for yourself and those in the hospital. Instead of asking for health updates, talk about something fun or update them on the goings-on at home, something to distract from the constant medical talk and to bring a sense of normalcy. 

Some things to remember

It can be scary to worry about making a recovering loved one sick, or becoming sick from a loved one yourself. But it’s important to remember that distancing measures are in place with you and your loved one’s best interests at heart. Be at peace knowing that the person in recovery is in the place best equipped to care for them. Remember to take care of yourself, and know that staying apart when medically necessary is ultimately an act of love and care.