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Looking for a gift for friend in the hospital? Consider giving them cozy blankets, soft socks, open toe slippers, book/eReader reader, long phone charger, and condiments for food instead of flowers.

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I was recently hospitalized for the first time in my adult life. This made me realize what I would have loved to have as a a gift based on my six-night stay. If you need ideas on what to buy as a gift for a friend who is in hospital, or just given birth and warded, the list below are pretty good options.

Warm, comfortable blanket (microfleece)– Hospital HVACS systems may not offer local room temperature control but instead make coarse adjustments remotely. I was told they could only bump it up or down here at my VA hospital. Also, this was the first time I received an IV treatment and let me tell you they are cold… Had an IV in my forearm and it felt like a cooling coil and I am pretty convinced I could put a fan on it to air condition the room.

Warm, comfortable socks– Reasons are similar to the blanket explanation. Maybe socks with gripping pads wouldn’t be bad in case they walked on the tile without shoes. A friend once mentioned that their family/friends had received socks from the hospital, so I followed up and asked my nurse about this. Turns out, the VA hospital does have socks available and my new RN was shocked that no one had offered them to me.

Condiments – I believe hospital food is designed to be lightly seasoned or bland as it may upset a patient’s stomach. This problem might be compounded by medication. May have to be on the safe side and confer with the patient for what the could stomach safely. I recommended conferring with the patient assuming they would be informed of their dietary restrictions and abide by it. Generally, it would be wiser to consult with the RN or charge nurse regarding what they can have for consumption.

Open toe slippers– Luckily I had flip flops on when I was unexpectedly admitted for my infection. Making short walks to the bathroom would have been a pain if I only had tennis shoes. Probably would of went barefoot in that case.

Long, braided phone charger – My wife brought my 10 ft braided lightning cord and it was great. I can easily circumvent their expensive equipment and tuck it somewhere that wouldn’t get in the nurse’s way. I recommend braided because they tend to be more durable in my experience. Also, I am using a 5ft USB hub for my charger, the extra length is nice to have.

Entertainment: A book, eReader, word games, or anything to help pass the time. The TV service may offer on-demand movies but the selection is slim and the hospital may charge for it as well depending on their administration. Another option might be to get your patient a google/apple card so they cam purchase some movies. If they might have trouble holding the phone for long durations then get a gooseneck cell phone holder that has a clamp connection so you can mount it to the bed. The gooseneck will offer a flexible but rigid structure so the patient can adjust it to their preference. Another friend recommended audiobooks. Great way to pass the time and not strain your eyes!

Gift Cards: Gift cards for local restaurants (especially with delivery service) and gas stations are terrific. would recommend avoiding flowers, balloons, and stuffed animal gifts for hospital patients. They take up quite a bit of valuable real-estate, make it difficult for hospital staff to work, and are a burden when you have to pack up for your discharge. This bonus tip is intended for adult patients.

Power Bank: I recommend a power bank to charge your phone when you are unable to move. This was especially helpful for when they were locked down from holding their newborn.

Eye Mask & Ear plugs: I recommend these items due to minimizing the constant distractions or getting some much-needed rest. Especially useful for patients who are sharing rooms in the maternity ward.

Moisturizers & Chapstick: Moisturizer is great because it’s always so dry in the wards. And just make sure it non scented or hypoallergenic.

All in all, do visit. As often as you can. Being alone, surrounded by strangers in pain… it is lonely and depressing and it is really boring. If you can’t visit, then call. Just talking to someone from the “outside” and knowing they care enough to carve time out of their day for you goes a long way and is particularly important when you’re hospitalized and at your lowest. On the other hand, I’d actually advise people to call and ask before visiting, some people don’t want to be seen while hospitalized. I’m frequently admitted and hate it when my parents call people over without asking me first.

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