hospital etiquette with elderly

When an elderly relative must stay at the hospital for a few nights, family caregivers usually spend a lot of time with them. The family members provide company and comfort and act as an advocate for their aging loved one. While they are looking out for their relative, family caregivers need to practice good hospital etiquette to keep everything and everyone at ease.

Hospitals have many rules and guidelines that help the staff be the most efficient and effective possible. When visitors and family members follow hospital etiquette, it helps to ensure the safety and well-being of every patient. Because family caregivers will be acting as the intermediary between their relative and the hospital staff, it’s important to do everything possible to make every interaction a positive one.

Good Etiquette at the Hospital

Family caregivers should always take care of their own hygiene and sanitation before going to the hospital. The showers and bathrooms are for the patients and it is important for non-patients to do their grooming and hygiene elsewhere. Of course, it is always appropriate to wash hands before interacting with an elderly relative. Family caregivers should avoid wearing strong perfume or cologne as it can irritate both patients and staff members. Finally, when it comes to self-grooming, always wear clean and comfortable clothing.

When spending time in the hospital room with the elderly patient, family caregivers should use one of the available chairs. They should never sit on the bed with the patient or lean on any equipment in the room. Of course, nobody should interfere with the medical equipment, even in a joking way. The room should be kept free of clutter, cords, clothing and other personal items that belong to the senior. Many of the same elder care rules at home, apply at the hospital, too.

What Not To Do at the Hospital

Too many family members forget the rules and regulations of the hospital. They also neglect to follow basic etiquette rules and that makes it more difficult for hospital staff to do their jobs. When family members learn to avoid certain activities and behaviors, everyone around them does better.

Among the most important thing that family caregivers should avoid is ordering the hospital staff around. Too many people treat the hospital staff like the hired help when it comes to fetching things, starting and stopping tasks and doing jobs outside of their current duties. Family caregivers should always be polite and patient. They should also do as much for themselves and their loved ones with tasks that aren’t medically related.

Other things that are either frowned upon in the hospital or outright banned includes cell phone use, noise levels, barging in through closed doors and curtains, sneaking food into the patients and coming to the hospital while sick with an infection disease like influenza. Of course, there should never be smoking or drinking at the hospital.

It takes a lot of patience and plenty of discipline to be a good hospital guest. Family caregivers that master hospital etiquette often find that they and their elderly relative enjoy the time more and get more information and interaction with staff.


For elder care in Cherry Hill, NJ, and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.