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One of my parents, A, is going through the last months of cancer. They are forced in bed at home and constantly taking painkillers to manage the pain.

When relatives and friends come to visit, there are situations which are simply exhausting to A, to name a few:

  • Multiple visitors coming over at the same time and ending up chatting between them, increasing the noise in the room. Chatter noise, aside from being annoying on its own, forces A to talk louder to be heard, and that makes them go short on breath.
  • Visitors coming while having strong perfumes or, even worse, being sick, and carelessly attempting on greeting A. Strong scents are disturbing for A, and even getting a cold is something they cannot afford in their present condition.

Sadly it is not custom in this side of Europe to announce or plan a visit. In that case we could manage together with an agenda of the visitors. These people simply show up for visiting.

How can we manage communicating to the visitors to not be annoying/dangerous for A?

We would like to achieve that:

  • if one is sick, should simply not come. Even us getting a cold from them would be a risk for A, since we are in daily contact with A.
  • when there are too many people together, or the visit has been going on for too long, simply stop it, and have the visitors move somewhere else.
  • Hey there, welcome to IPS! It seems like you have two different questions here. It would be better if you asked them separately (so people could focus on only one aspect of your question). So, could you edit your post to remove one of them and write another question with the other? – Ael Oct 15 '19 at 9:58
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there are two questions here. We should wait until OP chooses only one before starting answering. – Ael Oct 15 '19 at 9:59
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    @Ælis it seems like there is one basic question, which is how to manage visitors in a way that makes the patient comfortable. – DaveG Oct 15 '19 at 10:30
  • @DaveG Yeah, but the setting is very different. You want people to know in advance that they shouldn't come if they are sick. For that, you can address them separately. For the other situation, however, you have to deal with them as a group which is very different IMO (especially since you are basically kinking some of them out) – Ael Oct 15 '19 at 10:35
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    I would argue that dealing with visitors both before and during the visit is a question on how to handle them as a whole. My vote is to keep this open, as it is on-topic. Happy to hear others opinion though – Chillin' Oct 15 '19 at 14:14
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in this side of Europe

I assume I am from the same "side of Europe", considering the description.


Sadly it is not custom in this side of Europe to announce or plan a visit.

Maybe it is not the custom in the most ordinary situations. But even in this part of Europe, visits in a hospital are limited within certain hours. Just because the patient is at home, it does not mean that the patient needs nothing special.

Moreover, the "visits" in this case are not just any visits, where people end up opening a bottle of alcohol and grilling some pork. And people actually know about the needs of patients.

It is perfectly fine if you tell the people that the visiting hours are XYZ, because the rest of the time is occupied with the treatment and resting. It is OK to do it by phone, by your own initiative.


if one is sick, should simply not come

You cannot make somebody NOT come, once they are at your door.

But you can do what people with babies do: if the person is obviously sick, just tell them that the patient needs the best environment without contaminants, and a sick person will only make things worse. Tell them they are welcome to return once their cold / flu goes away, and in the meanwhile they are also welcome to use the video-conferencing features provided by smartphone apps.


when there are too many people together, or the visit has been going on for too long

If your apartment / house is big enough, take the visitors to another room, and instruct them to keep their voices lower. Remind about the noise whenever needed, to have a comfortable environment.

To initiate this, your parent might want to aid, and use a code-phrase like "I need to rest, please" - so you will know when to move the people out.


It is also in the "spirit" of people in our part of Europe to get offended easily - if you do any of the things above. But it is also in their spirit to forget it rather quickly, so you do not need to worry much.

You placed your decisions wisely - to make the best for your parent, in the current conditions. Please do not feel guilty for hurting the ego of a selfish person - if such person comes to visit your parent.

I define a "selfish person" in this case - the person who makes the visit not for the sake of the patient, but for the sake of going out - similar to going to an amusement park.


I am really sorry for your difficult time, and especially for the troubles of your parent. I hope you can all get through this in the "best" way possible.

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    Prioritize care for your parent. This point cannot be stressed enough. Anything that doesn't add to their recovery is resource that they do not have to spare. – Nelson Oct 15 '19 at 7:31
  • @Nelson: Very nice way to summarize my intent. +1 – virolino Oct 15 '19 at 8:25

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