My caregiving journey is challenging, but I do not journey alone, and my best is enough.
Holidays can be wonderful. And, holidays can be stressful – especially if you are a caregiver. Here are five quick tips to help you manage the season.
1. Plan any special events around your routine. When possible, keep your routine the same for you and your loved one. It can also help lower stress if you schedule activities at times that work best for you. For example, if you know that mornings tend to be hectic, schedule celebrations in the afternoon.
2. Keep things simple. If decorating the whole house feels overwhelming, consider putting up just a few things or give yourself permission not to decorate so your focus can be elsewhere. Or, if hosting or cooking for the whole family is too much, consider asking someone else to host or cook. Save your energy for the things you enjoy the most.
3. Make gift giving and receiving easy. If shopping at a crowded mall seems too stressful, consider shopping on-line, giving gift cards, or giving something more sentimental such as a framed picture. The holidays can be a good time to educate family about any support you may need. Ask for respite as a gift so you can get out. Write down tasks like shopping, yard work, or shoveling that family could assist with. Holiday gifts for your loved one could also be something as simple and lovely as a picture, music he/she will enjoy, or a special holiday treat. Pie is good!
4. Include your loved one in making the holiday special. Sometimes listening to music, helping to put Christmas cards in envelopes or ornaments on the tree can be engaging for him or her. Celebrations also help raise your loved one’s spirits, so make the celebrations small; too many people can be overwhelming. If it is a large family gathering, section off a room where your loved one can sit, rest or enjoy a quieter visit with family.
5. Recognize that things have changed when you are caregiving – particularly when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. New traditions can be just as enjoyable as old ones, and less stressful. Check in with yourself to ensure you are giving yourself moments to relax and enjoy the season.