The holiday season is here – a time of year where most of us look forward to family gatherings, parties, gift exchanges and loved ones assembled around a table for festive meals. This year, though, the holiday season comes amidst a global pandemic right in the middle of flu season. While COVID-19 has put a damper on everyone’s plans for this year and may require some adjustments to your typical holiday plans, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with family and friends.
To help heart and vascular patients, their families and everyone really to navigate these confusing and difficult times, I’m offering some sound guidance on how to stay safely connected this holiday season.
The Importance of Staying Connected
While some patients think they might need to completely isolate and stay away from family members due to COVID-19, that may not always be the case. Cardiac patients need emotional and physical support due to their underlying chronic illness. Common heart disease symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness and swelling can make it difficult for some patients to care for themselves. Who better to receive some extra love and care from their close family members and friends than those with heart disease?
How to Connect Safely
To achieve this while keeping higher-risk family members safe, I recommend keeping visits short, limiting gatherings to less than 10 people and wearing a mask when possible. I also urge patients to get their flu vaccine, which can at least reduce your risk for one of the season’s common illnesses.
When compared to the general population, cardiac patients are more susceptible to coronavirus and its complications. Being careful to wash your hands routinely, eat properly, get exercise and plenty of rest are important.
Seek Guidance from Your Physician
I want to emphasize that making memories and sharing the holidays is important for both mental and physical health – and that stressing too much about contracting the virus isn’t healthy, either. As such, I recommend talking to your cardiologist to discuss your individual risk.
Understanding your condition, risk factors and health history will help you and your cardiologist determine what options for staying connected might be best for you and your family. While your doctor can’t make these decisions for you, having a serious conversation about the risks and benefits of getting together with loved ones can help you and your family feel more comfortable making the right decision for your personal situation.
Compare the Risks
Just as no two health situations are alike, different kinds of interactions come with different levels of risk. To help you and your family consider your comfort levels with different kinds of holiday plans, here are some scenario comparisons that may support your decision-making.
No matter what you decide to do this holiday season, remember that the decision on how you connect with other people is yours alone. You have to decide what you are comfortable with – without external pressures or stress from anyone else.
Find more heart healthy content in the Fall 2020 issue of Heart to Heart Magazine.