questionsdo you want visitors when you're in the hospital?


Depends on who they are. Some folks I don't want to see while I'm NOT in the hospital...of course maybe they'll catch something if they show up.


Most of my family is the kind who drop everything and rush to the hospital and stay there, just like you said about yours @belyndag . However, I hate to be in hospitals (as either a visitor or a patient), am a bit of a germophobe and would just as soon stay the heck away from them. A few in my family (including myself) want no visitors when they are patients. I don't even want to tell anyone I was in the hospital until I am home. Leave me alone when I am sick, I look like crap and I don't want to feel forced to make polite conversation.


I'm a bit of a mix between the two. Having visitors can break up the monotony of being in a room with nobody to talk to, a TV that gets crappy reception, and hooked up to so many machines just getting up to take a leak needs three people to assist and takes half an hour.

On the other hand, a large part of what people are in the hospital for is to REST. That's why they're called visitors and not roommates. B-)

On yet a third hand, hospitals aren't generally known for their quality of personal care. They may excel at the medical care, but when it comes to asking for a glass of water, you get put on the "yeah right, we'll get right on that" list. So overall what happens in my family is during the day someone will be there, but when visiting hours end we make sure there's a pitcher of water and a glass, see if they need anything else, then bid them good night until the morning. If family member wants some privacy during the day, they just tell us to get lost for a couple hours.


Wow, I'll definitely give you some pity. It seems rather unreasonable for an adult to expect someone to be there at all times. When my children have been in the hospital, I spent the night with them. That's an easy call. They were scared and I wasn't about to leave them alone.

When my parents have been in the hospital, I did short visits. Dad is one of those gruff and tough guys, so I didn't even stay very long for him, because he literally kept telling me to go (in a nice way). Mom enjoyed some conversation, so my visits with her were a little longer. But I never even considered spending the night there with them.

I guess my advice would be to know that you are an awesome daughter for doing all you're doing. It is above and beyond what should be expected.

And I hope all goes well with the tests.


I only have one hospital experience as a reference but my short answer is: family (including close in-laws) yes, friends or coworkers not so much.


I think staying with children is appropriate. Staying with adults is unbelievable. What is wrong with them that they can't spend 8-10 hours by themselves? People need to stiffen up and stop being so soft. I feel sorry for anyone whose family guilts them into staying with them 24/7 while someone is in the hospital. That's just patently ridiculous.


i think cultural norms also play a big part of this. when my dad was in the hospital after having heart surgery, by brother and i took turns staying there at night. during the day, either my mom or one of my uncles would be there with him. he didn't request that we be there and it's not that he was doing poorly or anything. it's just normal for the culture i grew up in.


I would never stay with my parnets in the hospital unless they were in very bad condition, like terminal condition, and they asked me to stay. I don't even go see them unless it's a multiple day big deal surgery. I've rarely visited anyone in my family in the hospital. We just don't. They don't expect me to be there either. My wife's parents are always trying to come around when she has the slightest thing wrong, we finally told them absolutely no more.

I don't want people around when I'm sick, I would never ask my wife to stay in the hospital with me, though she probably would if it were major. I'd stay with her no matter. The wife and future kids I'll be with every minute if they want me there.

As far as friends and other family go then if it's not terminal I'm staying away.


I was in the CICU for about a week in December. At my hospital, they allow visitors ANY time, day or night and there are no time limits for visitors. Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! I had visitors at all hours and I was really too sick to tell them to "Get the hell out of my room!"

Therefore, I vote for no visitors. Leave me alone and let me heal in peace.

@belyndag: A most excellent question.


i haven't been in the hospital since 3rd grade, but even then i remember being uncomfortable with visitors. i remember the looks of pity and concern on their faces and feeling helpless and feeble. if i were in the hospital tomorrow, i'd want my wife to visit often (probably not stay the night though since i know how much it sucks sleeping in hospitals) and i'd want my immediate family to visit sparingly, and thats it. i would want to be left alone for the most part (unless of course i were dying in which case its a whole new ball game).

now if someone has cancer, or some horrible fatal disease, then having loved ones around may be comforting. but if its something minor, i would see guests as a nuisance while i was trying to relax and recoup.


I am happy to say I have only been in the hospital twice. Once I was 16 and had a grand mal seizure that left me in a coma for a couple of days and paralyzed on one side for a few more before normalizing. At first they thought it was a tumor, but all my scans came back totally normal so they eventually chalked it up to a migraine. My parents took turns staying with me, which was mostly valuable due to the fact that I couldn't hold down the hospital food so they were bringing me pizza and burgers and keeping me stocked in books. The second time was just overnight, I woke up with severe abdominal pain, passed out and woke up in the hospital. Normalized after a couple of hours but they had no clue what was wrong with me so they kept me overnight and released me with a diagnosis of "female trouble" (has any man ever been sent home from the hospital with a diagnosis of "male trouble"?) I was grateful for my visitors but didn't expect them.


@moondrake: "has any man ever been sent home from the hospital with a diagnosis of "male trouble"?"

Actually, long story short, yes.


@zuiquan: Just that, no actual diagnosis?


No. I have been in the hospital quite a few times over the last few years and I can say that visitors were the last thing I wanted. All I wanted in the hospital was time to myself to focus on getting out, not worrying about how I look for visitors and how I am going to entertainpeople. Entertaining people when you are in ICU is definitely not something you want to be concerned with but that was where my brain was going. My last stay at the hospital (6 days) I told the hospital that I did not want anyone allowed in my room. This made things a lot easier.


I would need more info. I would go by what the patient needs/wants as well as the relationship to me. In your situation, it seems like the family is asking a bit much.

My family is the type that you might hear later about the hospital trip. Otherwise, a short visit is good. I have been lucky so far, but I would rather you leave me alone is my thoughts. I would want the husband to visit to for a short time and then go handle the stuff that still needs done.

However, when he was in a few years ago, I wanted to be with him and insisted on staying in the room overnight the first night. I was able to head off the billing department and send away food he was not able to have because nobody checked his records on what he was allowed to eat. I did only take off work for the day of surgery and just visited for the remander of the visit. He was worried about visiting with me until I told him he should nap while I read my book when we were waiting for test results.


@moondrake: Yep, pretty much. If it gets worse come back, if not then it's cool.


I have to agree with @pattiq, every situation is different. You need to know more.

Typically, if someone is truly ill, they're not looking for casual visitors. Sick, tired, in pain; idle chatter is annoying. Some family stopping by for reassurance and to help with small (but difficult) essentials is good. The sicker you are the more you need someone to be close but non-intrusive. No one likes suffering or dying alone.

In for some tests? Ambulatory? Then having a few, brief social visits can lighten a long, dull day. Someone might bring a snack, warm socks and a cheery smile.

My mother appreciated quiet company & support during the last few weeks of her painful cancer. My spouse had many admissions battling ill health & cancer. She needed help just reaching water, rolling over. Friendly visits were trying but she did appreciate family caregivers available.

I spent about 24 months hospitalized. Disliked disturbing intrusions, but made it clear when I want visitors, needed help.


I spent a week in the hospital in Des Moines last August (was given the option of Des Moines or Iowa City at the ER; Des Moines is closer). I was ambulatory, had permission to go throughout the hospital and primarily there so they could try to figure out what was causing the lesions on my lungs; never did get a diagnosis but they're all cleared up now.

I think my [youngest] brother visited every day after work for a little bit and over the weekend. My parents came a few times (longer drive). My pastor came for a brief visit one day too. The breaks in monotony were good. I was especially glad for the visit from my parents the day after I was admitted since I had them bring my laptop and the charger for my Nook tablet... and comfortable socks. I read, played games on my Nook, and played a lot of TS3 while in the hospital. I am fairly nonsocial when not at work, so brief visits were good enough for me.

All this being said, I have to agree it depends on the situation and the person. :)


Thanks for all of the responses. I've had to be careful about checking back for answers lest a family member spot me a.) doing something other than waiting to be asked for a sip of water, and b.) bitching about being here.

To those who said it is situational, I agree completely. When my dad was only 55 he suffered a subdural aneurysm that left him brain damaged. Someone HAD to stay with him when he landed in the hospital to keep him from wandering off. (I could tell you stories.....). Kids need Mom when they are in the hospital, so that's a good point, too.

My mother is another case altogether. Full-blown hypochondriac while I was growing up. Now she falls more into the category of valetudinarian (look it up! Great word!). She expects everyone to sit by her side 24/7 without making any noise. When my kids were little she insisted that they visit her hospital room as much as possible, then complained if they made any noise.

Sorry. Just needed to vent. We got her home today.......


..... and I'm happy to report that the MRI and cat scan, et al, showed no signs of a new stroke or blocked carotid arteries or heart problems. She is a bit disappointed.

I know that sounds hard, but you would have to know her. She never met a prescription pill she didn't like, and this visit got her no additional pills.

Anyway, I tend toward the "pop in for a cheerful quick visit then leave" school of hospital stay, myself, but that seems to make me the odd bird in this odd family.

Ah, well. Back to cleaning her house. At least this time no one will expect me to vacuum!


No. I just wanted to sleep when I was in the hospital.


So many above have voiced my feelings. When I was in the hospital, I did not want anyone visiting except those very close to me. When my father was in the hospital, he wanted/needed me there. Ditto, years later, my mother. I did spend the night w/her. The needs/situations differ.

I strongly urge everyone to respect the wishes of the patient. And, if they don't know the 'wishes,' they must ask. Never, ever assume that it's okay to visit. Not everyone feels up to, nor wants company.


i hate visitors. If i'm well enough to accept visitors, i'm well enough to go home. Now get outta my room lol.


Addendum to my post: When my husband was in the hospital after a major heart attack, I was there, of course. Was there to encourage him. To simply be with him. He wanted me there. I love(d) him beyond words.

One 'family' member could not be bothered. Hospitals 'scared' her. Other family members also did not visit. When he came home, the same family members were absent. Did that bother him? Yes, it did. These same people professed love for him. And held so-called deep religious beliefs. All of that failed, in my eyes. He died w/o a visit from his mother, sisters/BILs. All pretended/said they cared. None attended his memorial service.

Again, it all depends on the circumstances. Use your own judgment. But, please, ask what the patient wants. It does matter.


My In-Laws are like yours, and would prefer to not involve anyone in their hospital stays - with a very small exception for new babies, but even then, they'd prefer to not crowd the room.
My family is the sleep on the floor if need-be type, but only for spouses, children, elderly parents and only for major stuff. If you broke your leg? You'll probably get a visitor a day to eat lunch with and they'll bring you a book or your laptop. I lean more towards this - stop in at a reasonable time, see if the patient is bored or needs anything, leave them alone.


@belyndag: I absolutely sympathize with your hypochondriac mother situation. I am in my 40s and I can't remember my mom ever not being sick with something or other. When my kids were little, she even managed to "catch" their ear infections.

Regarding your question, my roots are in the "entire family gathers at the hospital" camp. Everyone is expected to show up, no matter how minor the reason for hospitalization - even if it's for outpatient procedures or tests. The patient must never be left alone for a single moment.

Me? It is nice to have someone there to visit a bit, as long as it's someone very close to me. Other than that, I don't want visitors. Being polite and making conversation are hard work. Why would I want to be forced to work so hard when I'm sick?


You should visit for an hour or two. I visited my friend who's in and out of the hospital on a somewhat regular basis, and it became an elaborate excuse to watch hockey and get his mind off of the pain.

In my experience, most people want a visit at least for a little while. They want to know people care enough to spend time with them, and aren't off washing their hair and ranking that above their own well being. More than that, well, visitors start smelling like rotten fish unless the patient's good enough to play games or do something else, but if the patient's in pain and able to move a bit, just doing something somewhat active, even if it's a board/card game or watching sports together, or catching up, it helps a ton.

Disclosure, grew up with a parent that worked in a nursing home, so I'm drawing on that somewhat relevant, but not entirely applicable, experience. People want to know that they're cared for and that they matter in someone else's life. Whatever form that takes.


@moondrake: Actually, yes. Happens quite frequently. Man complains of intense groin pain consistent with testicular tortion. Scans are obtained, exams done but frequently nothing is ever found.


Oh, and there is one other thing about visitors. There is little I dislike more than entering a patient's room and finding the equivalent of a family reunion going on. I do not like (and usually will not) conduct an interview and examination with a huge crowd in the room. Maybe one person (spouse the like) can be useful in adding some information, but beyond that it is just awful.

Almost always, after I chase the family out, I get a huge expression of thanks from the patient. Most people (there are exceptions) don't want their visitors to think they are ungrateful, but really don't want some nosy relative hearing the gory details about their bleeding prostate, so they are uncomfortable about saying anything. So, consider this as a bit of a PSA. When somebody comes to do something, consider that your cue to go get a coffee, or get something out of the car, or make a phone call, or whatever. Just make yourself scarce for a while.


@gmwhit: I'm so sorry you and your late husband had to go through that. I certainly know people who don't visit because they "don't like hospitals." We'll, other than my mother, I don't know who does!

When my father became brain damaged, a large number of his "friends" refused to visit because they "didn't want to remember him like that." Dad lived 16 years after that. Although he was unable to work or drive and lost most of his short-term memory, he NEEDED social interaction and thoroughly enjoyed visitors. It was devastating to everyone that so many people stayed away, including some family members.

I was hesitant to post this question but I'm glad that I did. Several commenters mentioned that we should follow the wishes of the patient, which is great advice and I'm glad we got that out there! In the case of my family, I just wish they DIDN'T want everyone there 24/7 for a hangnail!


When I was in the hospital I did not want visitors except hubby. When friends or family are in hospital I call first and ask them if they want company. I find most say no,


@wilfbrim: That's actually oddly reassuring Not that I want you guys to suffer mystery illnesses, either.


Depends on what I'm in for.


Speaking for myself, I would only want immediate family to visit if I were hospitalized, and I would hope they would not be offended if I asked even them to leave if I was feeling really bad or really tired.

The exception is if I was actually dying. Then I would like to see all family members at least briefly, and might even request that certain ones come. The same for close friends - I would want to see them to say goodbye.


Really depends on why I am in the hospital. Car wreck, natural disaster, heart problems, then yes a visitor or two would be nice. I wouldn't want any hanging around all day though.

If the hospital stay is because of something embarrassing or stupid that I did, then no, no visitors. Let me suffer in shame alone.


If you are asking the patient, which I agree with, think about if they are trying to make it easier for you.

My Mom will say no visitors and I am fine. However, she would like a short visit to find out what everyone is doing and did someone water her plants. She would decide for herself that it would be too much trouble to ask someone to drive a couple miles to visit. My Mom is the opposite of the hypochondriac. She will troop on and not say much of anything. Her doctors yell at her for waiting too long to get help.


I do like close family for a visit, or to bring things from home. The entire family can telephone me. I always call before visiting anyone and then keep it to an hour or so. For family it depends on what is and how ill they are.
I like that many hospitals are now all private rooms. Hospitalization is not a good time to make new friends with a roommate. The 24/7 extended family visitors can make that intolerable for the roommate.
This is a great topic, thanks for asking.


@caloby: LOL! Extra up votes for thinking of being hospitalized for doing something stupid or for something embarrassing!


I agree with those that say it depends on the situation.

I also want to add that hospitals are horribly short staffed these days. If someone is in, and immobile, I would hope that family members/friends would take turns stopping in to make sure they are getting everything they need.
It is also very important for any person of any age, to have someone to advocate for them. When you are very sick, the emotional tole and/or illness/pain and /or meds can make it difficult to comprehend or remember what the doctors are saying.
My parents both have hearing issues, my father has "typical for his age" forgetfulness, and my mother has dementia.
They need strong advocates at this point. The hospital has goofed up their meds on more than one occasion, and we have had to be there to make sure they were being given the right meds at the right time. They also checked out my mother once, w/o notifying the family-- let her sign- and left her in the hall !She was not suppose to be released.



I have also had friends w/ serious illness that would of died w/o family constantly there.
Also to note, my mom could not eat unless someone helped her. Not enough staff. She would of starved !

Some hospitals are better than others. As mentioned, there are staffing issues these days at the best of hospitals. If someone wants a bath more than once a week or as mentioned, is not alert or mobile, then they definitely need someone there frequently, if not all the time.... depending.
It is not uncommon for private aides to be hired in these circumstances.
Perhaps, these visits are not the same as "visitors"

Folks stopping in to say hello..... as mentioned, depends on situation. Ask the person, and the family. Sometimes the family needs a break and friends are nice to have to stop in to lend a hand.
No chatting necessary , unless desired, someone to be there "just in case."

@belyndag : personally, I think its very nice of you to do that for your mom. She is very lucky.


@belyndag: to be honest, after what you described, i would take the tough love approach. Thats attention seeking behavior and caving in only makes it worse. That kind of stuff is common in children but adults shouldn't be indulged like that. as i said, if it truly is a serious situation you should stay. but she is doing this to herself and forcing you to be miserable as a result. that can manifest into a very unhealthy relationship (if it hasn't already) and cause resentment on your side (if it hasn't already)


It all depends on what's wrong with me and who the visitor is. My family is also the kind that is supposed to drop everything and head to the hospital if someone else in the family has been admitted. I have done it all my life so I think that is normal and I kind of like it (probably because I have done it all my life). Everyone is different and I don't think either way is right or wrong as long as a person is okay with it.


@jenniferbreuer4: LOL! I asked this question so long ago that it's happened two more times since I posted this! Once was the day before we were leaving on a pre-paid vacation with our kids (one last time before they move out). I pulled the tough love thing. I drove 2 1/2 hours to stay with her for the day as she went through a round of cardiac tests. The specialist reported that her heart is strong and there is no blockage to be found, so her chest pains appear to be related to her acid reflux. I helped her get packed up and returned to her house, then I drove home and made it on the family vacation. The week I returned (and was getting my son packed up and moved away to college) she scheduled a visit with ANOTHER cardiac specialist. I had to choose between my mother and my son (who has Asperger's and was pretty anxious about moving into a dorm several hours from home). I chose my son and let my sister take Mom to the doctor. Again, he found nothing. I think I've made the right choice!


Every patient is different, for me personally I know visitors are concerned but it takes a lot of courage to go and admit that something is wrong especially if you are scared/embarrassed/ashamed (something serious or private or something they could have prevented - speaking from experience) so give them some dignity and respect make sure the patient is comfortable with having visitors if not leave them alone until they are being in hospital is bad enough without having a guilt trip or a lecture, or pity when they have enough self pity to last a lifetime, or bombarding them with questions.