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A Visit Can Bring Holiday Cheer to Hospitalized Patients
Date:12/26/2011

SUNDAY, Dec. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Being hospitalized during the holidays can be emotionally difficult, but there are ways to help patients keep their spirits up, experts say.

"While the psychological impact may be short-lived, the bottom line is people would rather be well and home than sick and away," Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), explained in a university news release.

"The holidays are about social interactions, the sharing of emotions and connecting as humans, and there is nothing written that says this cannot occur in a hospital setting. Bring the holidays to the hospital," Klapow said.

Many hospitals take steps to boost the spirits of their patients over the holidays, such as providing music therapy and collecting toys for children. There are also a number of things that friends and family members can do to help their loved ones deal with their situation, added Jordan DeMoss, assistant vice president of the UAB Hospital.

The best thing people can do is to spend time with someone while they are in the hospital, DeMoss suggested. Visitors should let patients know they are happy to be there, he added.

"Convey to them that you are celebrating that they are here with you. Focus on the meaning of the holiday, and not so much the environment," De Moss said.

If being there in person is not possible, take advantage of hospital Wi-Fi and try to connect with someone in the hospital online or through Skype, he suggested.

DeMoss recommended several other ways to celebrate the holidays with those who are hospitalized, including:

  • Brighten up the patient's room with holiday decorations.
  • Bring a favorite holiday food the patient is allowed to eat, or make a special request in the hospital cafeteria.
  • Schedule a doctor-approved massage for the patient by a licensed therapist who makes "house calls."
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