10 Things to Pack for an Overnight Hospital Stay: The Caregiver’s Perspective Part 1


10 Things to Pack for an Overnight Hospital Stay: The Caregiver’s Perspective Part 1

(Editor's Note: We welcome Matt, who cared for his wife, to our blogging team. You can connect with him on his profile page: @mherynk.)

If you haven’t already had an overnight hospital stay, you most likely will in the future. I have spent lots of nights in hospitals, mostly as a caregiver. I have read countless articles about what to pack for the hospital and how to survive a night in the hospital. Almost all of these articles are written for the patient, not the caregiver. As a caregiver we can leave hospital anytime we want, we aren’t attached to wires, probes, and needles. We choose to be there because we care about someone who is hurting.

This list is written with the caregiver in mind, not the patient. Most of the articles I have read are also useful for the caregiver, but I have added a few things. After all, the hospital is there to serve the patient, not the caregiver. As a caregiver you may often you may feel like you have to fend for yourself.

Things to bring

  1. Socks and slippers. Tile floors can feel really cold and suck the heat out of you, if you get cold it is up to you to figure out how to get warm, the blankets are for the patients. You won’t want to wear your shoes all night just to try and stay warm.

  2. Comfortable clothes such as pajamas or sweats will help you be comfortable through the night.

  3. Sweatshirt. Again it is up to you to figure out how to stay warm.

  4. Pillow and blanket. I have spent countless nights at hospitals and never had more than one blanket from the hospital -- they are for the patients not the caregivers. Sometimes you can get a pillow but you will be much happier with your own pillow that you are used to.  Hospital pillows are made so they can be sanitized and this doesn’t always make for a comfortable pillow.

  5. Snacks and/or food. The hospital food is there for the patient so as a caregiver you are on your own. If the doctor is making rounds she will be there sometime in the next hour, could be 30 seconds or it could be 60 minutes, or even not at all. If you are starving you will want something to hold you over until rounds are done. Many times I have stepped out of the room for five minutes only to find out that was the exact time the doctor stopped by the room.  Bring snacks and you can avoid this problem.

  6. Essential toiletries such as toothbrush and deodorant. I don’t advocate showering at the hospital unless you are out of town or as a last resort. Hospital rooms are always busy with people coming and going and they often need to get into the bathroom. Also going home to shower is a nice break and can give you a few hours to relax away from the hospital.

  7. A pen and paper is always a good idea because you will inevitably need to take notes about something. It can also be used for journaling or doodling.

  8. Don’t forget the charging cord for every electronic device you bring. Also check the hospital policies for cell phone use, some places don’t allow it.

  9. Cash. Cafeterias don’t stay open 24 hours a day but vending machines do. Some parking places will only take cash. You may run into an honor bar and in desperate need of coffee, without cash you won’t be able to honor the bar. Cash is always handy because there are lots of little incidental things that come up with extended hospital stays. As a caregiver you are on your own, the hospital is there to serve the patient.

  10. Games, cards, books, something to entertain you besides TV. TV is about the only entertainment provided by the hospital. Even if you love to binge watch TV, you will eventually want to do something different. A game of cards is low stress and will allow you and your partner to have a conversation away from all the distractions of home. You are both trapped, can’t leave, and have not home distractions, use the time to bond.

What would you add to my list?

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Great suggestions, I always had earplugs but with all the beeps and lights sleeping wasn't much of an option.\r\n\r\nImportant phone numbers and medication lists were something I kept in a binder that went with her to every appointment. They phone numbers came in handy when I needed my parents to call my kids friend's mom to pick them up from school - all the information my parents needed was there. Since I had small kids I also included dependent information. I put together some forms I used to help me get organized. Here is a link to the complete set of five forms (http://remakethepresent.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/All_Forms.pdf) and a link to some descriptions (http://remakethepresent.com/?page_id=513).\r\n\r\nI would love to hear your feedback on them.


You have done a great job with your list. Something I usually forget is an address book with names and telephone numbers. I can't remember all of the family numbers and you might need to call in an emergency. Again great job!