Caregiving during the holidays

If you’re already feeling stressed about your caregiving responsibilities throughout the year, the holiday season might present a few challenges to your enjoyment of the season — this is normal.

You love your family, but it’s not uncommon to feel resentful if your perceive that caregiving is often your job and other family members are leaning on you. You might just feel sad that your loved one has a physical handicap or a cognitive impairment that keeps them from fully enjoying the festivities.

Here are some things you can do to communicate to other family members how you feel and ask for help and support:

  • Adjust your holiday planning to accomodate your needs and those of the person you care for. You might let another family member host a celebration at their house, instead of yours. You might consider asking for help with food preparation or buying pre-made goods to share.
  • Communicate to your family that the person you care for might not feel up to having a large crowd. Adjust the time you spend outside of the house or traveling so you’re not away for an extended time.
  • Create a quiet room. Many people with dementia find multiple conversations and background noise disturbing. To avoid this anxiety, the person may benefit from time in a quieter room with less stimulus where family members could take turns visiting with them.
  •  Book caregiving relief early. Call a home care agency ahead of time to book help so you can take some time to share with other family members and friends.
  • Don’t make comparisons. This year doesn’t have to be like any other. This can be the year you decide to focus on what’s really important, take things as they come and breathe deep. Start a new tradition of simplifying the celebration.
  • Talk to your family about what needs to be done — ask for help now for next year. Maybe you need every other Saturday off, or maybe you need help with home repairs. Put the request out there and give your relatives time to plan and give you some respite.  It’s okay to make a short list and have a sign up sheet ready.
  • Care for you. Plan a spa day, a special outing or a fishing day. Use that gift certificate you’ve been holding onto. Let your family know when you’ll be taking a day off and ask someone to step in for you on a specific date.

Enjoy time with your loved one. Make this a time to create new memories and enjoy the company of your family member. Cherish the days and hours you have together and know that you’re doing a wonderful thing by making their life as comfortable as possible.

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