The holidays often bring added stress along with the joy of the season. To help caregivers cope, FirstLight Home Care shares 7 ways to reduce and manage holiday stress while still caring for an older adult.
The holiday season is upon us and this time of year often brings with it the joy of holiday decorating, the giving and receiving of gifts, and big family get-togethers complete with large sit-down meals.
But for the caregiver of an aged or ailing loved one, the holiday season can also bring with it the stress of hosting well-meaning family and friends who simply want to celebrate the season with that loved one, as well.
Here are seven ideas to help you reduce the added stress the holiday season can bring.
1. Keep the guest list small
If your loved one is the family’s matriarch or patriarch, the chances that the entire family will want to spend the holiday with your loved one is probably high.
However, modifying a once grand family occasion into a much simpler get-together or even a few smaller get-togethers may be needed for both you and your older adult.
Talk with the family and remind them of the stress a large gathering can place on you and the senior you care for.
Suggest that the closest family and friends maintain the family ritual, but opt to have other relatives and acquaintances meet you and your loved one out for a meal.
You can also opt to have everyone visit at differing times so that the burden of hosting one large event isn’t too great at any one time.
2. Suggest the big family gathering be hosted by another relative
Now that your loved one has gotten older, it may be time to move the family gathering from their home to that of a child, grandchild, or other close family member.
Holiday traditions are hard to break but the next generation is often eager to take on the mantle of maintaining the family rituals and adding their own modern spins to them.
Instead of having to cook and clean to prepare for visitors, you will only need to worry about transporting your loved one to the event.
If necessary, ask for help with that, too. And don’t be afraid to request a ride so you can also have some assistance during the trip.
3. Change the way you shop
Instead of fighting the holiday crowds to buy gifts or shop for groceries and other basics, try shopping online.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created a host of other issues, one of the good things that has come out of the pandemic is the abundance of online shopping options.
Now, you can save time by shopping for what you need online and having everything delivered.
4. Ask for help
If you are still feeling a bit overwhelmed with the additional holiday hustle and bustle, don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help.
For example, if you are preparing a meal for visitors or have additional cleaning to do to prepare the house for guests. To get the extra time you’ll need, ask a friend or family member to keep your loved one company.
And, don’t be afraid to lean on your support circle for help shopping or preparing meals.
5. Stay connected with other caregivers
Taking a break from your duties to talk with other caregivers who are in similar situations can both ease your stress and provide you with an avenue to seek coping tips.
Your local Area Agency on Aging can help you find area support groups and can assist in providing help if you need it.
6. Take care of yourself
Don’t forget to take some time for your own needs.
Perhaps you can go out and do some shopping or get a massage while a family member who is visiting for the holidays stays with your loved one.
If finances allow, you could also hire caregiving help for a short time to provide you with a much-needed break so you can recharge.
Do your best to get some rest and exercise and take time to look after your own health and well-being.
7. Focus on what is most meaningful
Remind yourself that not everything has to be perfect.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a brief time out to remember what is most important and embrace only the most meaningful traditions.
If you or your loved one has an honored tradition, like attending a church service or playing Santa for the family’s children, try to skip the additional events and just focus on the most meaningful traditions.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy the season.
Do the holiday activities that you enjoy most, take some time to reminisce about holidays past with your loved one, listen to some festive holiday music, or just relax and watch some favorite holiday movies together.
Recommended for you:
- Prepare Family Before Holiday Visits with Seniors
- Self Care During the Holidays: 10 Stress Relief Tips for Caregivers
- Caregiving Holiday Tips: 3 Ways to Deal with Difficult Family
Guest contributor: Carol Nelson, RN, BSN, MBA, is Healthcare Solutions Manager for FirstLight Home Care. With more than 35 years of experience in Medicare and private duty home care services, hospice and palliative care, and assisted living management, Carol has a heart for service and a dedication to the health and well-being of older adults.
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