Some aspects of home life (including renovations) go on hold when a friend or family member becomes ill. Thankfully there are simple ways to bring familiarity – and a little more of home – to the patient room, whether for a day or an extended stay. (Note: As always, it’s best to check with the patient care team first).
1. Let the light in. Research shows patients who have access to nature may heal faster, have reduced stress and may require less pain medication. A window can connect the patient with the outside world that may seem a world away. Even a simple picture of a nature scene can bring a calming focal point to the space. Outdoor gardens are increasingly being used as healing spaces as well.
2. Bring in soothing sounds. An iPod or small radio can lift spirits and transform a place with sound. Some hospital rooms or patient lounges may even be outfitted with stereos. Favorite songs can bring back memories for the patient and lift the mood for visitors as well. In the medical setting, music has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, boost endorphin production and more.
3. Bring in comfort with familiar photos, a soft blanket or plush stuffed animal as a tangible reminder of home that also brightens up the space.
4. Essential oils, used for centuries, can change the mood in a room by calming anxiety, bringing increased focus, reducing nausea or simply promoting relaxation. The National Library of Medicine provides an overview of aromatherapy, including resource links and research. (Note: Care must be used with essential oils as they’re highly concentrated.)
5. Healing laughter…One of the best experiences may be watching a comedy together, playing a silly board game or reading a funny book.
6. Take breaks. Taking turns with visiting, and getting back home every so often can be an essential part of keeping balance in what may be a tumultuous time.
7. Bring in the spiritual. On-site chapels, meditation rooms, and pastoral care services at the bedside can bring in a sense of home and community. Free guided meditations from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and calming meditations for kids and adults alike, benefiting the nonprofit Kula for Karma are also available online.