"Being in the hospital can be distressing for anybody," Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a statement. "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."
Hospitals might provide some holiday spirit by providing music therapy and collecting toys and stockings for the children, but family and friends can also help, said Jordan DeMoss, assistant vice president of University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital.
"First and foremost, visit and spend time with your loved one," DeMoss said. "The simple presence of familiar faces is sometimes all the comfort a patient needs while in the hospital."
DeMoss also suggested:
-- Bring decorations like lights and stockings to the hospital room.
-- If dietary rules allow, bring in your loved one's favorite food or tell a nurse about their favorite holiday meal.
-- Ask care providers if a massage is safe for the patient; if so, arrange for a licensed massage therapist to deliver a "house call."
-- If no in-room music therapy, bring a stereo or an iPod.
-- Engage in familiar activities such as knitting or video games to help divert a patient.