A CAREGIVER'S GUIDE TO WHAT MATTERS

Holidays and Caregiving

HOLIDAYS AND CAREGIVING

Maybe your holiday always looks like the perfect Norman Rockwell painting, everyone behaving, happy, smiling, perfectly cooked bird. Then if they do, most of us will want to come to your house. For most of us, holidays can be a stressful, whirlwind time. Trying to keep everyone happy while playing host, planning extra meals, preparing for company, shopping, attending parties --all while trying to enjoy the experience ourselves can be challenging. Low energy levels and limited free time can exacerbate normal tension in family gatherings.  For a caregiver, this time can add a whole new set of physical and emotional stresses in an already stressful situation. So planning is crucial to help avoid the ‘I just want to disappear until it is over’ mindset. 

 

Here is a list of helpful tips:

 

1.BREATHE

2.Don’t get stuck in traditions. Try to be open to changes in your holiday routine. Instead of playing host to 20 family members, suggest someone else host. If your loved one is house bound, go potluck. Have family members help clean, decorate and cook.

3.Schedule visits early; energy levels tend to wane as the day progresses.

4.Try to include your loved one in planning. What are their strengths and wishes? Are you looking to have a quiet day? Ask yourself: What am I up to doing? Then act on that.

5.When decorating, be mindful of extension cords that your loved one (and visitors) can trip over. Minimize the amount of clutter.

6.Talk to family and friends about your fears and anxieties…..don’t bottle them up.

7.If you have an extra guest….TAKE ADVANTAGE! This is your holiday too, so don't be afraid to ask them to sit with your loved one (if necessary) while you take a nap or hot bath or perhaps even go out for a while for coffee with friends. Remember as a caregiver the goal is to continue to live your life as much as possible and not wait until you are no longer caregiving to return to your life. Plan some outings like Holiday concerts, plays, a special meal and try to enjoy this time guilt free.

8.Caregivers need to nurture their own relationships and their own health. And especially if one of you is ill. This is the perfect time to call on family and friends who have offered to help. Have a short list of possible errands, chores, little things that will help you as caregiver when asked: “Is there anything I can do for you?”.

9.Plan for the unexpected. Sometimes you cannot change the situation, accept it and move on and BREATHE

10.During the Holidays we all tend to overeat -- sugar and fat particularly --when felling stressed. Try to limit the amount of those types of foods in the house. Make ahead several pots of soups and stews to freeze and use when needed. OK Now What? Has many easy recipes in the back of the book.

                 HAPPY HOLIDAYS and all the best!