How to Make Your Hospital Stay a Little Less Stressful

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No one wants to think about a hospital stay, but at some point, you or a loved one may find it necessary. It's important to know what to expect and how you can make the best of your experience.


Packing for a hospital stay

"What to pack depends on the procedure," says Debra Glover, RN, MSN, Manager, Clinical Health Services, Aetna. For example, if you're having surgery on your arm, you don't want to pack pullover shirts. Button down options will be much easier to manage. For any procedure on your lower body, pack wide legged pants or bottoms with an elastic waist – anything that will give you a little more room.

Glover even suggests bringing clothes that are one size bigger than you'd normally wear.

"After surgery, there is swelling, so what fits you before might not fit after," she says. "Talk to your doctor about what to expect." They can also let you know if you'll need to wear a cast or use any other type of assistive device that may interfere with what you can wear after your procedure.

Although hospitals typically provide basic toiletries, if you have a special toothpaste, shampoo, etc., that you like, feel free to bring your own items from home.

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Making your visit more comfortable

A hospital room may not be the most comfortable place you'll ever stay, but there are ways to make you feel more at ease. If you have a favorite pillow or blanket, plan to bring that with you. Make a playlist of your favorite songs or use your smartphone to stream a radio station or podcast you like to listen to. Even something as simple as wearing your own pajamas can help.

"Little creature comforts from home can make that stay a little bit more comfortable," Glover says.

And don't forget about entertainment. You'll probably have some downtime as you recover. Load a movie or episodes of your favorite TV show onto your mobile device. Pack a crossword puzzle, magazine or anything that will keep you occupied to help pass the time.

Understanding your meal options

Hospitals aren't known for tasty dining, but as long as you have no dietary restrictions following your procedure, you may have more meal options than you think. Talk to your doctor or the nursing staff, but most hospitals will allow you to bring food from home or get a meal delivered. Download a meal delivery app or research your local delivery options. If you have friends or family nearby see if they can bring you a home cooked meal.

Asking for help

"We want you to have as optimal a recovery as possible," Glover says. So, if you need something, ask. Your care team won't be bothered. If you have questions about hospital policy or even any instructions given to you by your doctor, let someone know. "Self-advocate and ask questions," Glover says. "Nurses love to educate patients." As long as you communicate your needs, your care team can work with you to help make your hospital stay as stress-free and comfortable as possible.

Speak to a licensed Aetna representative about Medicare
Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm CT
1-833-942-1968 (TTY: 711)

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