What to Pack for the Hospital
Aging Matters

If an ambulance should rush to your home are you prepared? In an emergency, all one needs to worry about is to grab a bag and go. There won't be time to pack a few essentials.

If you have a chronic illness that requires frequent hospital visits, or you're caring for a loved one, be sure to have a bag ready to go as you walk out the door. As a caregiver, you may have experienced numerous hospitalizations, and understand the significance of time.

In a NYTimes article, Amy Goyer, AARP's caregiving expert, recommends certain items can make the hospital experience more bearable. But when in a rush, panic, and urgency, there's only one thing on someone's mind, and that's getting there, not packing those items on the spot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8 percent of Americans had to spend a night in the hospital in 2018. The American Psychological Association, 2016, nearly one-third of Americans have cared for an elderly, ill, or disabled family member. Many of them require hospitalization.

Some items are fair game to bring to the hospital. Most everything barring a pet. Prepare for the hospital visit like you would a road trip, a sweater and your headphones, favorite book or magazine - even a favorite blanket. Remember, hospitals are very chilly.

  • Clothing - What you wear depends on what kind of access the hospital staff needs to which part of your body. If the stomach, then wear clothing like a wrap.
  • Toiletries - Bring your own travel-sized toiletries, makeup, disposable toothbrush, and favorite toothpaste. Pack over the counter essentials like aspirin or lotion, so you're not charged for them at the hospital.
  • Medications - have the list of meds in the bag. The healthcare team needs to know about any medications you are on. Add the names and phone numbers of all doctors.
  • House slippers or flip-flops - but either way make sure the soles have a good grip and the backing keeps the foot from slipping out.
  • Your pillow -- hospital pillows are firm and covered in plastic making them uncomfortable.
  • Earplugs -- they drown out noise from medical devices, your roommate or nurses' station conversations. Earphones will add an extra layer of comfort.
  • Pen and pad - to jot down questions to the doctor. Also to take notes of how you're feeling and to make to-do lists of what's needed when you get home.
  • Essential oils - will add a special scent to your room.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.



Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

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