Homebound during holidays difficult

Diane Sasser  |  12/19/2008 1:32:03 AM

Holiday News You Can Use Distributed 12/18/08

Are you or members of your family homebound for the holidays? Many families are limited to their homes, hospitals rooms or nursing homes this year.

Even if the circumstances are temporary, restrictions take their toll on individuals and families who are unable to leave their confines, according to LSU AgCenter family sciences professor Dr. Diane Sasser. For them there’s no party-going, no shopping for half-off sales.

“Homebound families would give anything to enjoy 50 percent off the stress or sadness they feel when they are restricted to their environments,” Sasser said.

The homebound feel a certain loss of control over their environment no matter how pleasant the surroundings. That loss compounds during holidays. They may feel like less of a person. They also may feel guilty because they are limiting the rest of their families as well.

If you are the one who is homebound, reach out to others. Let others know how you feel. Your sadness can hinder your recovery or otherwise take a toll on your health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and allow yourself to accept help.

If you are a friend or family member of someone who is homebound, you can help by bringing the holidays to that individual. But first check to see if that person is allowed visitors and that any food gifts are compatible with the individual’s diet or medications.

Help the homebound remember they are wonderful people regardless of their physical or mental health. Focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t. Check to see if they can leave their environment for a short time for a meal in a restaurant or a ride in the car to view Christmas lights. Any chance to change their environment even for a brief time can be great morale booster.

Offer to relieve family members who are caring for the homebound. Give them time to go out for a cup of coffee with old friends or to take a trip to the grocery store. Illness or injury ultimately affects the whole family, not just the individual.

But don’t just stop at visiting during the holidays. Sasser says homebound individuals need frequent visits or calls to keep them feeling they are part of life. Be observant and watch for changes in their disposition, such as extreme sadness, threats to end their lives, aches or pains unrelated to their current health situation or other changes. These may be signs of depression and should not be ignored.

“Your time and respect for homebound individuals and families could be the greatest gift for the holidays,” Sasser said, adding, “You’ll feel better for it, too.”

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Contact: Diane Sasser, at (225) 578-4448 or dsasser@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens, at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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