Frances Shani Parker, eldercare consultant and Detroit, Michigan author of Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes, writes this blog. Topics include eldercare, hospice, nursing homes, caregiving, dementia, death, bereavement, and older adults in general. News, practices, research, poems, stories, interviews, and videos are used often. In the top right column, you can search for various topics of interest to you. You can also subscribe to this blog or follow it by email.
Back in late August, I noticed a store clerk setting up Halloween decorations. After I commented that Halloween was really coming soon, the clerk casually mentioned that the Christmas decorations were already up on the other side of the shelf. In the sales world, that’s called getting customers in the holiday spirit early, so they’ll spend more money. Decorations may start them thinking about holiday foods, parties, trips, gifts, and death. Did I say death? That’s probably the last thing most people connect with the holidays.
Should people be thinking about holiday deaths, too? Research from the University of California confirms that they should. Using official U.S. death certificates in various hospitals around Christmas and New Year, researchers examined daily mortality rates. Results indicate that mortality from natural causes is highest in dead-on-arrival (DOA) and emergency department (ED) settings on Christmas and New Year. There are more DOA/ED deaths on 12/25, 12/26, and 1/1 than on any other days for each of the top five disease groups. Yes, Christmas and New Year are risk factors for deaths.
Although the research article didn’t explain precautions people should take that might keep them or their loved ones from being part of holiday death statistics, earlier research reported at “WebMD Health News” presented these recommendations from Dr. Alice Jacobs, president of the American Heart Association:
1) Don't skip regular appointments because of the holidays. Reschedule if needed.
2) Stick to your healthy habits through the holidays, and help your family do the same.