Here is some advice to those who plan to visit a sick person at home:

Making occasional visits to the homes of dear ones, sometimes unannounced and even on weekdays, and inviting friends and relatives to spend a day or two with you at home, are all part of Indian tradition. The time machine has taken us to an age where life is controlled by the touch of a finger, and yet we are very busy. In the meantime, we now need to learn to tolerate visitors coming in at odd hours even when there is a sick person at home. In my hometown recently, the worst of my experiments with visitors was when my father fell seriously ill and was almost bedridden for some days. There was hardly a day when my siesta is not disturbed. Painful evoked in me both anger and tears.

Here is some advice to those who plan to visit a sick person at home:

Do not spend more than 15 minutes with a sick person, unless your presence is unavoidable. A visitor who violates this very first rule is nothing but a nuisance to an unhealthy person who might badly want to take a nap, go to the toilet or have food in a relaxed manner. When my father was admitted in hospital, my mother and I were taking care of him on the one hand, and trying to be hospitable to visitors on the other. It was suffocating to see visitors entering in herds once visiting time started.

Do not take the whole family, especially kids, with you when you go to a sick person’s house, so that noise and disturbance are minimised.

Even if you pay a visit at an odd hour, act wisely. If you reach there in the afternoon, speak comfort to the family and leave within 10 minutes so that the patient can take food and medicine at the right time. Remember, the one who takes care of the patient also needs rest and food at the right time in order to have the energy.

Conversations

Be careful of the words you speak. Some people start conversations on socio-political, economic, domestic and international issues and often forget to put a full stop. Others keep asking the sick person: “What medicine do you take?” “Which doctor treats you?” Then there is gratuitous advice: “Don’t go for Ayurveda, continue with English medicines” and on and on. Please try to understand that a person who tries to kill the pain in his body is not comforted, rather is irritated, by your loud discourse on unimportant matters in his presence.

Avoid unnecessary comments. When I was tending to my fathers’ wounds, one person would say, “Put more Dettol.” Another would volunteer thus: “Don’t press that hard.” If you cannot offer a helping hand, then it is better to keep quiet. A girl who takes care of her father every day knows her job. Or else, try to offer good, practical advice.

While leaving, make sure the house is neat and tidy, instead of creating more burden for the people in the house. For example, if you see any eatable lying on the floor, throw it in the dustbin and do not leave it for ants. Push back chairs to their proper places. Close the door before you leave — and do it quietly — to keep flies and mosquitoes out. Hygienic surroundings are important.

Do not disturb a sick person with phone calls, or at least see that you end the conversation as soon as possible. The patient as well as the caregiver might not have the time to take calls, or may not be in a frame of mind to do so.

The plight of sick people should be understood. Privacy, peace and calm are important for them.

95neethu@gmail.com

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