Living with Chronic Pain

Supporting a Loved One During Hospitalization


When dealing with chronic pain, hospitalization may ensue at some point. In addition to physical symptoms and concerns, loved ones may face anxiety, helplessness, boredom, or loneliness when hospitalized. Emergency situations and increased pain significantly increases stress levels, which negatively impacts overall health.

Ways to provide support when a loved one is in the hospital

When a loved one becomes hospitalized, they need the support of family and friends. Here are five ways to support someone with chronic pain during a hospital stay.

  • Be present. The best way to support a loved one who is hospitalized is to simply be present. Family members or friends may feel unsure of what to say, but letting the loved one know that they are not alone is comforting. Being present also provides an opportunity to ask questions and stay informed. If physical visits are impossible or visitor restrictions arise, phone calls or video conferences are suitable alternatives.
  • Make the hospital room comfortable. A blanket from home or a framed picture of family or friends can brighten a hospital room. Socks, slippers, pajamas and robes from home can also be more comfortable than those issued at the hospital. A pillow from home can help with sleeping and resting comfortably.
  • Give a gift. A hospital stay often results in boring times, such as waiting for procedures, downtime between visits from medical staff, and limited activities. A magazine, book, or crossword puzzle may be greatly appreciated. An adult coloring book with gel pens can provide relaxation.
  • Advocate for the loved one. If they are not receiving adequate pain relief or appropriate treatment, someone should intervene on their behalf. Speak with a nurse, doctor, or patient advocate to ensure all concerns are addressed. Taking notes of questions, answers, medications given, and medicine schedules is beneficial in making informed decisions.
  • Ask what they need. For example, did they leave something they need or want at home? Is a short visit preferred, or would they rather have someone stay to keep them company? Is there something they are allowed to eat or drink that they would enjoy? Are there demands at home that require attention, such as caring for a pet, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow? Asking the loved one exactly what they desire is a superior way to provide support.

Additional sources: Psychology Today and Health Central

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