(ARA) - For all the joy they bring, the holidays can also be a stressful time - especially for anyone facing illness, injury or hospitalization, or for anyone taking care of an ill or hospitalized loved one. If you know someone in that situation, you may feel awkward about sharing your holiday spirit when your friend, family member or co-worker is dealing with such serious issues.
But rest assured it’s still important and valuable for you to show your support and share your positive attitude with those who may be facing a less than merry holiday season because of health issues. Whether by just staying in touch or providing practical assistance that your friend or loved one needs, you can help ease holiday stress for someone who is ill or who is caring for a sick person.
“Facing a significant health challenge is never easy, but it can be especially difficult during the holiday season,” says Sona Mehring, founder of CaringBridge, an online service that helps people create and maintain websites for ill loved ones. “Caregivers and patients can be so caught up by the demands of the illness that other needs and priorities fall by the wayside. They may need help dealing with the special demands of the holidays, like shopping, decorating their homes and keeping in touch with people who want to know how they are doing.”
Mehring offers some ideas for how you can help relieve holiday season stress for anyone going through cancer, premature birth or another health crisis:
• Get specific with your offer of help. Volunteer to address greeting cards, run holiday errands or pick up some
“When a family member or good friend
is isolated in the hospital or confined to
home care during the holidays, recovery
is much easier when supporters are able
to easily stay in touch,” says Mehring.
“And by staying in touch, supporters can
provide the assistance and love a patient
needs to get them on the road to feeling
needed items when you do your own holiday shopping. Often, these mundane concerns may take lower priority for anyone dealing with a significant health challenge.
• Bake and deliver holiday cookies or similar treats to a caregiver or patient who may not have time to do such holiday-oriented tasks on his or her own. Simply providing a taste of the holiday season can help lift their spirits.
• Call on a handful of close friends to help decorate the person’s home. Time constraints can hinder caregivers and physical constraints may prevent a patient from doing their own decorating. This not only helps finish a major holiday project, it can also help patients and caregivers get into the spirit of the season.
• Help the patient and caregiver communicate to his or her network of friends and family by creating an online social networking page and keeping it updated. Repeating health updates time and again may be exhausting for people recuperating from an illness, or anyone caring for an ill loved one. By setting up an online support network page through CaringBridge, and helping your loved one maintain it, you can help him communicate important health updates, post photos and receive messages of support from others.
CaringBridge offers free, personalized websites for patients and caregivers to post health updates and images, and to connect with family and friends. The free service is made possible by the generosity of donors within the CaringBridge community. Log on to www.caringbridge.org to learn more.