by Karen Keller Capuciati
Our dad spent a lot of time in rehab and in hospitals. We visited him as often as we could, but, for the most part, we were 1200 miles away. It broke our hearts that he had to spend endless days and nights in a hospital bed. Luckily, our mother was able to visit every day — she would get there by lunch and stay through dinner. Yet there was still a lot of time he was alone. We wanted Dad to feel loved and supported, so here are some of the things we tried:
- Dad adored music. So we bought him a portable CD player and brought him his favorite CDs — like Neil Diamond, The Three Tenors and Patsy Cline.
- One key to providing comfort were the Bose noise-canceling headphones which drowned out the ambient sound of the hospital so he could escape into his music.
- Dad loved to garden — when he lived up north, he had a beautiful rose garden. So we would send gorgeous bouquets of flowers to his room. This also got the attention of the medical staff; they would come in to admire his latest floral display.
- We also brought Dad a spray bottle of rose water that we’d sprinkle on the cold compresses we’d apply to his forehead when he was warm. To this day I can’t smell roses without thinking of him.
- Because he naturally missed his family, we made a large collage of family pictures filled with happy memories. Dad hung it in a prominent location so he could show off his family to all the nurses and visitors who entered his room.
- Needless to say, we phoned every day to let him know we were always thinking of him.
- Since it was sometimes hard for Dad to get comfortable in the hospital bed or chair, we would roll a towel to form a bolster to place behind his neck or lower back. This is a little tip that I learned from my yoga classes.
- When our brother, Michael, visited, he sat for hours with Dad, watching sports on TV and reading aloud the sports section of the newspaper. Simple, sweet and stress free!
- And then there was the vibrating neck pillow. This simple blue pillow, just $16 from Amazon.com, took on a life of its own. In some way it brought Dad great comfort – he always kept it close.