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Caregiving During the Holidays: Tips to Help Get You Through

December 11, 2018

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are the most stressful time of year for many, but especially those caring for elderly relatives. It may also be bittersweet. Many of you are caregivers for your parents and kids at the same time. We thought we might offer a few tips for the caregivers during the holidays. Focus on the meaningful. The main goal of the holiday season is meaning and joy. There are many factors we can’t control when it comes to our loved ones’ health and abilities, so adjust your view of a successful holiday and share memories and joyful times of the past, present and even the future. Simplify holiday activities such as choosing your favorite or most meaningful decorations for an abbreviated décor. Holiday cards may be a little too much.  So, try sending an electronic version to everyone.  Bring the holiday to your loved one instead of having them make the extra effort to come to you. Start new traditions. If your loved one is not able to participate in the traditions of old, look for new ones or modify the previous traditions. Driving through holiday lights for those more sedentary may be difficult. Try watching a holiday concert or musical like the Nutcracker on TV instead of going out to take it in in-person. Modify those holiday meals.  Try fewer sides and desserts due to the chaos of it all or dietary restrictions of your loved one. Let others help bring food items to assist you with all that cooking. Each guest could bring their favorite item, or try catering if finances allow it. Or, accept an invitation to attend the holidays at another family member’s home instead.  Give yourself a break. Efficient gift-giving is the way to go. Online shopping is much more convenient than trying to fight the crowds to get the best deal. Allow the gift to be shipped to your doorstep saving you time, effort, and even money.  Say yes to gift wrapping offers. Some places will wrap gifts for a small donation or fee and sometimes for free with the purchase. There is also nothing wrong with giving gift cards.  As a matter of fact, a lot of people would prefer gift cards that allow them to choose what they really want when they want it or need it. Keep to limits on gift-giving. Set-up a drawing with family and/or friends to randomly choose just one person to exchange with rather than having to buy gifts for everyone. Anticipate holiday HOT buttons. Limit your exposure to negative people during the holidays or just take them in, if necessary, in short doses. Avoid corrective attempts. Avoid seeking a resolution to old issues at this time of year. Work it out at another time. Holidays should be full of cheers, not jeers. Mind your mindset. Stay mindful and focused on the present moment. Focus on what is planned, and not on what has not been. Appreciate any help you get, but don’t resent those that do not offer to help. Always stay level-headed and don’t feed into any negative moments. Connect with other caregivers. There are many caregiver support groups out there. Search for one in your area and try it out. If you do not want to go in-person, there are online message boards available to talk through things with others that are going through similar situations. Look for social media groups where you can share thoughts. Help may be in your own backyard. You may have friends that are going through similar things that you can talk to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help whether it be paid or unpaid, it will be worth your health and wellness in the long run. Outsource some of the duties such as cleaning, wrapping gifts, and cooking. Don’t forget about taking the time to take care of yourself. Find ways to “fill your tank”.  Get a good amount of sleep each night.  Exercise regularly. Dance like no one is watching and take in your sweets and alcohol in moderation. Sip some tea, take a Vitamin D, focus on gratitude, and just let it all go from time to time. If you ever need additional help such as respite or assisted living when you aren’t able to take care of an elderly loved one anymore, please give one of our expert advisors a call and they will walk you through our one-on-one process of finding the right place where a loved one can feel at home.