If your spouse, parent, or friend is in the hospital, you can help make them feel better. Here are some suggestions.
I am using "them" just for convenience, even though grammatically it should be "him/her," so please forgive the errant grammar.
1) Never, ever try to cheer up a patient.
2) There is no pill that is as powerful as the feeling of waking up from a nap, and seeing a good friend or some family sitting there with you, simply because they want to be there. So bring some work to do, and just sit there for a while and let them sleep. Take turns with other people, one at a time in the room, in shifts. Just be there, because you want to be, and pay attention.
3) If they need help, do it. Don't call for help for every little thing. Get the blanket. Walk them to the bathrooom. If they need help eating, a nurse will feed them, but that nurse probably has 10-15 minutes at most to shovel in all the food. Instead, you pick up the fork and help. It is both the easiest way to help, and the most helpful way to help. This is especially true with aging parents. No parent should be fed by a nurse when a child is there who can do it. This is the greatest bond two people can achieve. It is more than love. It is life.
4) There is an unfortunate notion that as our parents grow older, and the children become the caregivers, that it means their roles are reversed and the parents "become" the children. They are not children. They are adults. Even if they have dementia, they are still adults. Speak to them accordingly. It is better for them, and also for you.
5) Get a warm washcloth and wash their face in the morning. Paint your wife's nails or shave your husband's face or fluff your friend's pillows. Take them on a walk up and down the halls. You will not break them.
6) Yelling at the nurses will perhaps get you what you want at that moment, and make you feel like you are accomplishing something. But it will forever set a course for the other nurses to talk about you at the nurse's station, and then they will do only what they are required on paper to do. If you want to be treated well, you'll get more by charming the nurses instead of bossing them around.
7) A hospital is not a hotel. It is not a spa. You may be able to order food, but it is not a restaurant. You may want that Diet Coke now, but the nurse is required to perform tasks in order of importance. Someone else's pain meds are more important than your wife's Diet Coke. And if you get mad and complain that you had to wait...see #6.
8) Friends should visit often. But unless the patient would normally lay in bed at home and welcome people to come over and stare at them for hours, hordes of visitors are just stressful. So unless you are close enough that you will wipe their face and help them eat and walk to the bathroom, then you should come in with some cookies or flowers or something nice and then LEAVE. They need help. They don't need to entertain you.
9) If they are awake, and you are reading something on your phone, talk about what you are reading. Watch something on TV together and talk about it. When you come to visit, have a story to tell about the outside world.
10) You don't need to sleep over every night. Those pull-out couches are awful, and you do need to sleep for your own health. But once in a while, you should want to be there.
11) Only in America do husbands participate in the room while his wife is giving birth. If you're going to be nervous and annoying, sit outside. Really, it's okay. Your wife's mother can easily, and effectively, take over the job. If you're going to pass out, the nurses do NOT need to deal with your drama while they are working to keep your wife and your baby alive. So seriously, wait outside. But if you can handle the blood and pain and stuff, it is really cool to see.
12) The biggest, burliest men will become the biggest, saddest babies when they are left alone in a hospital room. They will whine, pout, and be otherwise miserable. And it is endearing. So if you know a guy in the hospital who puts on a brave front, just show up for a few minutes anyway. I have never had a patient who did not want anyone to come visit. They just want it in measured doses sometimes.
13) Geriatric patients may become disoriented in a new setting, like a hospital room, and have was is called "hospital acquired dementia." It is temporary and it is not serious. They may seem to shut down a little, or become agitated. While unpleasant to witness, family and close friends being there helps relieve the stress and gives them something familiar to help orient them. So hang out in the room, and be calm.
14) Most importantly, if you don't want to be there, don't be there. You can be fake-nice for hours, but they will notice when you drop your guard and are honest for 2 minutes and make it obvious that you want to leave. And that is the moment the patient will remember forever.