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Categories > Family Wellness > Visiting the doctor or hospital

What to pack for a hospital stay
The must-haves
The feel-good extras

About advance directives
About advance directives

Advance directives are legal written instructions that let your family and doctors know your medical wishes if you become incapable of making those decisions. The two primary forms of advance directives are:

  • a living will, which specifies the medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want
  • a medical power of attorney, which is a document appointing a person to make decisions on your behalf

When you go away on a trip, you pack the essentials you’ll need to make your stay comfortable and stress-free. The same holds true for a planned hospital stay. Knowing what to pack can help make your hospital stay less stressful.

So what should you bring to the hospital? The hospital admissions office may provide a list, but talk with your healthcare provider for specific suggestions. Then use the lists below.

The must-haves

These items take priority space in your suitcase:

  • nightclothes, a robe, sturdy slippers and warm socks
  • comfortable clothes to wear home
  • toiletries
  • glasses or contact lenses, solution and a lens case
  • a list of food and drug allergies
  • your health insurance card
  • a certificate showing you donated your own blood, if applicable
  • names and phone numbers of family and friends
  • about $10 to buy newspapers or magazines
  • copies of your advance directives

The feel-good extras

These items can make your stay more comfortable:

  • loose, comfortable clothing such as pants or shorts, T-shirts, button-front sweaters or zip-front sweat jackets (for easier access to IVs)
  • eye and ear coverings to help you sleep
  • a personal music player or a laptop (make sure these items can be stored in a safe place or ask a visiting family member to safeguard them)
  • pictures of loved ones or pets
  • a phone card
  • unscented soap and washcloths
  • books and magazines

What not to pack

Avoid packing cash or jewelry. Leave your wallet, credit cards and checkbooks home. See if the hospital allows electric razors or hair dryers. Forget perfumes, colognes or strongly scented lotions, which may nauseate you or your roommate.