To know just when to call, how long to stay and just what to do and say when visiting the sick, requires tact, judgment and common sense.
The first thing to consider is the selection of a seasonable hour. The patient needs regular and periodic care and the visit should be timed with reference to this and not merely to the caller's personal convenience.
Most invalids are better able to enjoy seeing their friends during the middle of the day than at other times. Few invalids care to receive their friends until the room has been freshly aired and set in order for the day, the daily bath and toilet completed and the doctor's morning visit over. Neither early morning nor late evening are favorable visiting hours.
Some visitors never know when to go. As a rule, from fifteen minutes to half an hour is a sufficiently long period, for it is far better to go while the welcome lasts. If the visitor is wise, she will not allow herself to be entreated to remain longer or to prolong her call by the invalid's plea that she is "not a bit tired."
She is probably more or less excited tho not able to realize her real feeling until after her guest's departure.
But more important than all else in visiting the sick, is the atmosphere the caller consciously or unconsciously carries with her. Conversation, manner, even the tones of the voice have their effect on the invalid.
Too much sympathy with the patient is a mistaken kindness and often positively harmful. After a few kindly inquiries, the visitor should tactfully lead the conversation away from the patient's ailments into other channels. Diversion of the right kind is really as valuable to a sick person as a dose of medicine.
The visitor should carry cheerful news and avoid all that my be depressing. One's own personal worries and trials should be left outside. Entertaining news items, descriptions of the latest book read and letters from absent friends will all be of interest to the lonely shut-in.
The caller should dress attractively. Only those who have experienced much illness, realize what a positive refreshment a caller's charming toilet may be nor with what delight the tired eyes take in every bright detail. You must remember that what is merely an episode to the caller is an event to the patient.
Just what to take to a sick friend may be a problem. Flowers, fruits and jellies are customary gifts. If your friend is supplied with these dainties, a new book or magazine, will be even more appreciated as bringing a fresh element into the sick room.
Any little novelty that helps to break the daily monotony will prove attractive.