Reducing Holiday Stress for Family Caregivers

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Family and friends love to gather for the holidays, but the holidays can bring on extra stress for families who care for an ill or aging loved one. If just the idea of getting out of the house or inviting guests into your home elicits sweaty palms and sleepless nights, read on for holiday breathe-deep help.

Keep It Simple

Sure, hosting Christmas may be a tradition, but caring for a loved one may require more energy and time than in the past. Instead of hosting a large gathering, consider reducing your party list to include only an inner circle of family and friends. Consider hosting a cozy evening dessert or going out for dessert with those you hold dear. Rather than decorating your home to perfection, display some of your most treasured holiday decorations. You also could enlist a friend to decorate for you or hire someone who could use the extra cash for the holiday season.

Embrace Traditions

Talk with your loved ones about the holiday traditions they enjoy most. What does your senior cherish about the holidays? Modify activities around those traditions or start a new round of traditions. If attending religious services is important, look for a less-crowded service time, schedule a ride to attend the service, or consider viewing a service online. Christmas caroling may be a long-held tradition, but caroling outdoors would be a challenge — is it possible to invite a few neighbors in to sing around a fire or sing via video call with faraway family?

Enlist Help

Recruit the kids, grandkids, close friends, or even a caregiver to each cover an item on your to-do list. That may be assistance with cleaning, grocery shopping, putting up decorations, wrapping gifts, or taking the dogs for baths. Perhaps, you need someone to stay with your loved one while you go out to shop for holiday gifts. Home care agencies like Caring Companions At Home can care for your loved one while you are out or are tackling any of the above tasks. Hiring a professional caregiver so you can get regular respite breaks during the holidays and beyond is an excellent gift to put on your wish list.

Respect Your Self-care

Family caregivers are at risk for burnout, especially with a full schedule around the holidays. As the festivities kick in, it is important to be intentional about taking care of your physical health and mental well-being. If it feels impossible to slip away to the fitness center or out for a date night during the holidays, look for ways to get exercise and mini respite breaks still. Try parking farther away from stores and walking at a faster pace. If you have home exercise equipment, stick with regular workouts. Tuck your senior loved one in bed earlier, at least one night a week, so you can enjoy a fun movie or lose yourself in a captivating book. Be sure you get plenty of sleep and stay consistent with eating nutritious foods in between the rich holiday fare. Look for simple ways to recharge to ward off the holiday season's extra stress and emotional difficulties.

Modify Expectations

Caring for a loved one shifts your responsibilities and priorities. It is OK not to do it all yourself. Approach the holiday season by letting go of the more time-intensive activities and focusing more on the quiet, tranquil moments with your care recipient. Share memories about favorite holidays in the past and talk about a special memory shared this year. The holidays can whirl with vibrant social gatherings, but it can also be a time to slow the pace and take in the reflective moments of love and gratitude, for which the holidays are set aside.

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