What to get your Dad for Father’s Day if he’s in hospital

 In Clothing, Coping with Chronic illness, Patient Experience

I really wish that no-one had to visit their father in hospital this year, but I know that is unrealistic and statistics alone mean that many of you will unfortunately be celebrating this day with a dad that is unwell and receiving medical care.  So … what then might help to brighten his day when he is away from the golf green, his grandchildren, garden and books?

 Well, combining my long-standing excellent-dad-gift-buying track record (my father said that, honestly!) with my rather extensive personal experience of long hospital stays … I have some ideas!

 First thing first … gifts related to his usual passions and visits from his loved ones are still likely to put a smile on his face so don’t discount them out of hand.  Indeed, they may be welcome reminders of what he can look forward to when at last he goes home, or simply welcome distractions from the four walls he’s been looking at recently.  I’ve listed some suggestions below, but I am certain that, by brainstorming with siblings and friends, you can come up with something he’ll love.   

 And then, there are gifts that acknowledge his current situation and aim to make his life easier and more comfortable.  You might think that these are the equivalent of presenting mum with a food processor on her special day – i.e. useful but not particularly desirable – but, believe me, when you are in hospital anything that can help make that time more bearable and help you feel a little better really is a gift that is appreciated!

 So, here goes … some ideas for Father’s Day gifts for dads in hospital or having medical treatment at home. And of course, please do let me know of any suggestions you have.

 1.  Something to look forward to – an activity or an event or a trip.

  • Does he play golf but would like to improve his putting? Then perhaps an hour of coaching on the green with the club’s pro might be just the thing for him to focus on getting well for?

  • Has he always sung country songs loudly (and embarrassingly) on car journeys or in the kitchen? Well, how about a ticket to an intimate country venue where the sound is not too deafening but he can really feel part of it all. 

  • Or, has he always wanted to go on a wine-tasting road trip, or to visit a National Park. While you might not want to fix the dates and get the tickets, just yet, you could put together an itinerary with pictures of what he’ll see along the way and promise to book it when he is ready.

2.  A visit from someone he loves – either now or planned for a later date.

  • Would he enjoy seeing his grandchildren? Perhaps they could go to see him one at a time (so as not to be overwhelming) for five minutes each? Or could record a song or video message for him?

  • Is there a sibling, or a friend that lives far away that he has not seen for a while? What about setting up a FaceTime for them both? Or arranging that they visit? (Consider carefully though whether this is best done as a surprise or with some pre-warning. It will depend of course on their relationship and his health, but best to give this some thought as reunions are emotional things at the best of times!)

  • Some hospitals even allow visits from pets, or you could get creative and arrange for a cuddle in the carpark. Either way, some time with a favourite furry family member can do wonders to lift spirits!

3.  Distractions to keep his mind and/or hands busy while in hospital

  • Light-weight books, and by that I mean both physically light as a heavy hard-back book is really cumbersome to hold, and content light as ill-health and medication make concentrating difficult and can affect memory. Chapter books are best with some light-hearted, easy-to-comprehend but engaging story lines.  We asked the wonderful people at Mr B’s Emporium book shop for some recommendations specifically for people in hospital and they even threw in a discount if you buy the whole selection!

  • Puzzlebooks – Sudoku, Crosswords – just remember to provide a few pens as well. Nothing more frustrating than wanting to start a puzzle and find you’ve dropped the pen on the floor or the last two were accidentally taken by busy nurses! 

  • A leather-bound, personalised notebook for his thoughts and ideas. There are lots of websites that offer beautiful books with plain or lined pages for his to-do lists; poems; things to ask his doctor about; memories or … doodles.

4.  Good-looking, comfortable shoes for walking in hospital corridors

 If you look hard enough, you can find really lovely slippers and shoes these days – even orthopaedic ones, if needed – that will help him to navigate those slippery hospital floors and help him feel more confident leaving his room. If there is one thing that physiotherapists and nurses wish their patients would do more of, it is walk!! Activity (and being sociable) have been shown to improve patients’ mental and physical wellbeing and some research even suggests it can shorten hospital stays and reduce the need for rehabilitation or convalescent care afterwards.

Get him out of the gown into some proper clothing, adapted to work with medical devices. 

I feel quite certain that giving your father his dignity back by helping him to dress even when unwell … rather than flashing his bottom in a dress … will be VERY appreciated! I’m going to recommend you look up INGA Wellbeing’s top and trousers in blue and light grey, because … well, I helped to create them but also because I know how much patients and nurses like them because of the wonderful feedback we receive. Use the code FATHERS DAY for a 10% discount until the end of June.

5.  Delicious meals

The way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, they say, and yet meals in hospital are not typically known to be a gastronomic delight!

  • Perhaps you could surprise him with some sushi, or a little curry dish from his favourite restaurant? (NOTE: do check with his medical care team first in case he has any necessary dietary restrictions.)

  • For longer stays, you might set up a mealtrain among friends that can cook him a different dish every day, in keeping with the guidelines you set after discussing with his medical team (allergies, cholesterol, fibres) of course – you can find out more about this and other such online services here.  

  • And … if HE is the one at home while the main family cook is in hospital, then taking the pressure off him by setting up a meal train to provide the family with dinners so he doesn’t have to is sure to be met with a huge sigh of relief!

6.  Keeping the home fires burning 

Take a weight off his mind by taking on the errands . Is there a favourite pet at home that needs regular walks, or a lawn that is growing taller by the second? Reassuring him that they are taken care of, by you or a team of neighbours and friends, would give him peace on mind and enable him to concentrate on getting well. The online Care Calendar can help manage willing volunteers with just a few clicks.  Find out more about this and other online services here

For more ideas of ways to support loved ones during times of ill-health, please do check out our useful resource With Love And Best Wishes.

The whole team at INGA Wellbeing joins me in sending our very warmest regards to your father.

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