DO: Take a moment before the visit to refocus, let go of whatever else is on your mind and enter the room acutely aware of why you are there.
DO: Ask "Do you need anything?" If the answer is no, offer practical suggestions such as slippers or socks, a comfy blanket or pillow, or a light sweater - or offer to lend an electronic book device or portable DVD player.
DO: Bring some news from the outside world. Being in the hospital can foster feelings of isolation.
DON'T: Assume that it's okay to bring flowers, balloons or food. Each hospital and patient is different, so ask about the hospital's rules and what the patient needs.
DON'T: Tell stories about other people who have had the same illness. Patients deserve to feel that their experiences are unique, regardless of their diagnosis.
DON'T: Complain about what's going on in your life - remember who the visit is about. Patients say that the most comforting visits come from those who are mindful, genuine and concerned.
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