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It’s a scary feeling when you get the phone call that a loved one has been admitted into the hospital. Even if you’ve done this many times before, walking into a hospital with the associated sights and sounds can make you feel anxious. Taking some time to prepare yourself and others for the visit will go a long way in keeping you calm and collected. And remember, most hospital stays are only temporary.

If you plan on visiting a loved one in the hospital, follow our tips for a smooth and successful visit.

Ask for Permission

Not everyone wants visitors when they’re in the hospital. Your loved one may be feeling tired or weak and want this time to rest. They might also be most comfortable with you visiting when they’re at home. It’s also possible that another time or day will work better. Though your intentions are in the right place, always ask before showing up.

Limit the Time You Stay

If your friend or family member does agree to having you visit, this is not an open invitation to stay all day. Limit your time to 30-60 minutes. Having to engage for any longer can tire out your loved one. Also, if a nurse or doctor walks in to take vitals, address medical concerns, etc., leave the room. This type of information should be shared in private.

Evaluate Your Own Health

Stay home if you are sick or feel that you might be getting sick. Contagious symptoms like a runny nose, cough or skin rash can be easily shared with the hospital and your loved one. If you can’t make it to see your friend or family member, send a card or write a personal message instead. And, if you’re healthy, still use hand sanitizer when coming and going.

Be Polite and Thoughtful

Follow proper etiquette when you’re in the hospital, such as not talking on your cell phone or being too loud if your loved one is sharing a room. Many hospitals have areas where cell phone use is not allowed because it can interfere with the equipment. Also, a thoughtful gift goes a long way in making your loved one feel comfortable. Think beyond flowers (which could trigger allergy symptoms) and consider crossword puzzles, magazines, stress balls and comfortable slippers.

Following the tips above ensures a smooth and rewarding hospital visit for your loved one!