“Through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

Stonerise Care Blog

Staying Safe This Christmas

Julie A. DeTemple, MD, FAAFP, Medical Director, Stonerise Home Health

During the holiday season, there is undoubtedly uncertainty in the minds of many regarding COVID-19. There’s excitement in the air as we resume old traditions – traveling to grandma’s house, attending crowded church services, and enjoying large family dinners that spill over to the “kids table.” Collectively, many missed Christmas of 2020 and yearn for a sense of normalcy this year.

Though we are eager to move on, COVID has a different plan. Just in the last few weeks, there is talk of another powerful variant, Omicron, which has emerged in South Africa. This brings questions of how easily the new variant will spread.

Because of this, we can’t let down our guard. It is important now more than ever to increase vaccine adoption rates within our communities inclusive of the booster dose if it has been at least six months since receiving the initial vaccine. And we need to revisit the old tried and true: wearing a mask when out in public, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and practicing vigorous and frequent handwashing. Luckily, we can easily switch out the chorus of “Yankee Doodle” for “Jingle Bells” during the holiday season to comply with the CDC-recommended 20 seconds of hand scrubbing!

This season, self-monitoring will be more important than ever. Honestly checking in with ourselves and our immediate family for signs of fever, cold symptoms, headaches, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell. Surprisingly, many vaccinated people show minor symptoms that they mistakenly attribute to a seasonal cold or allergies. If we have any of these symptoms, stay home, or get tested prior to attending social gatherings. After the year we’ve had, we are all due for a much-needed break. We deserve a beautiful, restful holiday season filled with family, friends, laughter and the resuming of holiday traditions. With that, however, comes the responsibility of good respiratory hygiene, honest self-monitoring, adequate vaccination, and the love and respect of one another.

Finally, while the holidays are a joyous time, seniors may feel isolated or unhappy this time of year, especially with trying to juggle the risks of COVID. The focus on family and friends can actually bring on feelings of grief for those lost. It’s more important than ever to be supportive. Be sure to check in on friends, neighbors or loved ones. Offer to help with holiday preparation. Slow down and take time to simply provide a listening ear or spend time with them looking at old pictures or reminisce over stories of the past. Remind elders how important they are to you. They may feel useless or burdensome if they can’t participate in festivities like they used to. If you know someone in a long-term care center, schedule a video visit or send mail the old-fashion way.

I pray that you and your family have a safe and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.