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Take the Holiday to the Hospital

Sharing a favorite ritual might ease a friend or family member's stay,,

TUESDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- If a family member or friend is in the hospital over the holidays, you can help cheer them up by bringing a bit of Christmas from home.

"Being in the hospital, away from family and festivities, can be a bit unnerving and sad for most people," Denice Foose, a chaplain at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, said in a hospital news release. "Anytime you can bring a holiday ritual into a patient's room, whether it's writing Christmas cards or reading from a favorite holiday story, it can make it feel more like home and make it easier on everyone."

Writing down or discussing feelings about the situation might also be helpful.

"Some family members might be upset they have to spend the holidays at the hospital, and patients might feel guilty about it," Foose said. "Talking about these feelings will let everyone know how they feel about the situation and, in most cases, will ease tensions and make for a happier holiday."

Giving can help everyone feel better. Something as simple as a smile from a family member to another patient, or from a patient to a hospital employee who has to work the holiday, can boost spirits.

"People begin to realize that material things are not what matters at the holidays, but instead the health and well-being of family members," Foose said. "Saying little things like, 'Is there anything I can do?' works wonders for the patient and loved ones, whether they are giving or receiving."

She offered some other suggestions for easing the difficulty of a holiday hospital stay:

  • Find a holiday special on television and watch it as a family, like you would at home.
  • If family members can't make it to the hospital, patients can reach out to volunteers for comfort and companionship.

More information

The American Geriatrics Society has tips for beating the holiday blues.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Methodist Hospital, Houston, news release, Dec. 12, 2008

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