This month we continue our series about medical professionals you might encounter who can help your loved one regain lost skills. In this case, speech therapists. They do much more than the name implies. We also look at ways to use technology to help a loved one overcome loneliness or isolation. And last, we look at how you can overcome an overwhelming sadness as you realize your loved one isn’t going to get better.
Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center is now having Love Light Celebrations at four different campuses. We will share with you what exactly Love Light is and how the celebration is a gift that keeps on giving. We will also share helpful information that will be beneficial to those that have lost a loved one as we are emerged in the holiday season.
The Love Light Celebration
The Love Light Celebration is presented by The Medical Center Auxiliary and is a celebration of Love Light donations made throughout the year. Love Light donations support Hospice of NGMC, which provides in-home nursing care for patients with a life-limiting illness.
For a minimum donation of $10, a light is placed on the tree. Donations of $100 or more are designated as “Star” gifts, and donations of $500 or more are “Angel” gifts. Love Light donations can be made year-round in honor or memory of someone, and that person or the family will receive a card notifying them of the gift.
The annual Love Light Celebrations are presented by the Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) Auxiliary led by Auxiliary President Ellen Toms. This year, NGMC Gainesville is celebrating its 40th annual celebration which began with Anne Thomas as the founding chair in 1979.
One-hundred percent of Love Light donations benefit Hospice of NGMC to help ensure those nearing end-of-life may receive complementary services that allow them to live as fully and comfortably as possible. Donations made during the holiday season on behalf of someone will be followed by a card notifying that person or their family of the gift. Hospice team members attend the celebrations and will be available to speak with community members at the lighting celebrations.
To make a donation or learn more about Love Light, please visit nghs.com/LoveLight or call the NGHS Auxiliary at 770-219-1830.
Trading Traditions by Laura Haisten
For many, the holiday season is time for reflection and relaxing with family and friends; a time to follow family traditions and a time to be thankful for what we have. While television would have us believe that everyone is happy at this time of year, feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression, and anxiety are all to often present, especially for those who have recently experienced the death of someone they love.
When a loved one dies, the meaning and purpose of many shared traditions may be altered. Coping during the holidays can be difficult; actually celebrating may feel impossible. For some, the first holiday season without their loved one is the most difficult part of grieving.
As painful as it may be, grief during the holidays can provide an opportunity to look closely at the past and present traditions, to consider how and why we do things a certain way and even to create new rituals or traditions. Because many people endure tremendous changed during the grieving process, some may find the familiarity of holiday rituals to be of comfort and choose to keep things exactly the same. Others may choose not to fully participate in established traditions or may choose to modify them in some way. Still others may experience confusion about how to participate and may change their minds numerous times. Some may feel there is a loss of meaning to the holiday season.
When going through the holidays in grief, there is no right or wrong way to approach traditions. The most important task is to communicate, clearly, with family or friends about your needs and expectations. Don’t be afraid to reorganize and personalize your traditions. Take care of yourself, be constructive, and remember that traditions can be flexible; change what you need to change, but continue what is worth continuing.Return to top
Visiting in the digital age
Today, there are many ways to stay in touch with the elders we love. That’s a good thing because research suggests that older adults who are socially engaged enjoy greater happiness and a sense of purpose. Those who are isolated and lonely are at a higher risk of depression, heart disease, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
But not all the options for connecting are equal.
Face-to-face exchanges are the best. Meeting in person engages many of our senses—vision, hearing, touch, and smell. Plus, being in the same space together and sharing an occasion deepens our sense of connection.
Other media don’t match up. Phones, email, texting, social media … each has its advantages. But older adults who rely on these media have the same rates of depression as those who don’t connect with others.
Video chatting is the exception! In a study of 1,400 older adults, those using apps such as Skype and FaceTime were half as likely to be depressed as those using other media. The visual feedback and “real time” interactions seem to offer many of the benefits of a face-to-face visit. For example, “When I video chat, I get to see my grandchild,” or “On email, no one gets my jokes.”
More ways to video chat. A focus group of seniors analyzed Amazon Echo Show, the latest video-chatting option of the Alexa digital assistant. It received extremely favorable reviews. They loved the simplicity of saying “Call John.”
The downsides. Getting your relative set up may present the biggest obstacle. Your loved one may need help downloading an app and learning to operate a mobile device. Or he or she may need help uploading contacts. Or balk about privacy and the security of data.
There’s nothing to equal the value of a face-to-face visit. But if you can’t visit often, consider frequent video chatting as your next-best alternative.Return to top
Whether you are caring for a loved one with dementia or helping a relative with cancer, sometimes the sadness of it all feels overwhelming. Especially at the holidays.
The sadness is natural, of course.
But you don’t want to get paralyzed by it.
Pivoting from the sadness
As family caregivers, we need to learn how to acknowledge the sadness. But we also need to allow for joy at the same time so we have the energy to continue providing care. It’s not self-centered to be happy. In fact, researchers have found that the “happier” we are, the more we tend to give to others.
The type of happiness that nurtures our giving nature is not the thrill of winning the lottery. Quite the opposite. It’s the little smiles and chuckles of every day that create an internal reservoir of contentment. It’s the frequency—not intensity—of positives in our lives that fills our personal well.
- Be selective with your attention. What we focus on—or don’t focus on—has a huge impact on our mood. Ignore the things that make you feel hopeless and focus on what can be done.
- Give yourself two or three pleasure moments a day. What feeds your soul? A walk in the park? Listening to music? A relaxing bath? It doesn’t have to be a whoop-de-do.
- Connect with a confidant. Research shows that a visit or talk with a close friend absolutely boosts mood and confidence. It also strengthens your immune system and improves your thinking!
- Ease up on your expectations. Your relative may simply be in his or her natural decline. Provide the softest landing possible. Find out what they would like to do in the time that remains. Keep them as comfortable as you can and create moments of joy whenever possible.