Home for the holidays: keeping caregivers and their patients in mind during the holiday season

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Everybody looks forward to the holiday season. The lights, food and family gatherings bring holiday cheer to those around us, and it’s easy to get swept up in the fun and excitement.

However, the holiday season can bring on added stress to those caring for a family member or those working in home care.

Thomas Skurto, a registered nurse who spent two and a half years working in home care before joining MJHS for over a year ago, knows all too well how the holidays can take its toll on caregivers and patients alike.

“Holidays can be stressful for everybody,” said Skurto. “Every caregiver working in home care can easily become overwhelmed while trying to work and focus on their own life.”

It can be easy for us to lean on those who are caring for our loved ones while we’re off shopping and preparing for the holidays. It’s important to remember that caregivers have lives too. If you’re a caregiver and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the holiday season, there are resources available to you and the patient to help ease the stress.

“Working in home care is a great way to connect people to resources,” said Skurto. “New York is a great place to be because there are more social services than other places of the country. Be aware of what is there to alleviate your burden.”

Patients receiving home care can also feel the burden off the holiday season. As the weather gets colder, it can be more difficult for those who are house-bound most of the time to do day to day activities, such as going to doctor’s appointments or going shopping for groceries. However, it is important that the patient takes their medication and takes care of themselves during the holidays.

It can also be difficult for patients who are celebrating at their home during the holidays. If the festivities are being held at their house, there will be changes to their environment. With decorations that aren’t normally around and multiple generations of family in the house, it can be easy for a patient to fall and be injured.

“Keep in mind of ways to enhance the patient’s safety,” said Skurto. “Be aware of environmental factors. For example, make sure cords from Christmas tree lights are wrapped up to avoid injury. If a patient trips on loose cords, they could exacerbate an existing injury or create a new one.”

There are a couple of easy ways to make sure the patient is safe during the holidays. Keep pathways clear of gifts and other obstructions. Turn off Christmas lights at night and replace old lights with new LED lights to reduce the risk of fire.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the patient is going to want to participate in the fun of holidays. They shouldn’t have to miss out on the fun because of an injury or illness. Keep the patient’s needs in mind, have different food options based on the patient’s diet and have fun!

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