Caregivers can thrive during the holidays!

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By Becky Allard, LSW

November is National Caregiver Month.  Senior Community Services wants to send a huge thank you to all those people out there who give their all, so their loved ones can have the best care.  Billions of hours each year, are spent by caregivers providing needed care to their loved ones.

The upcoming holiday season can be a very stressful time for caregivers to balance the extra stressors of the holiday, as well as continuing to provide care to their loved one.  It can be easy to get lost in the routine and traditions that we have held dear in the past.  The holiday season may look different this year depending on the spot in the journey your loved one is currently at.  No matter the journey, tips for thriving during the holiday season can apply to everyone!

TIPS

Let go of perfection!  Holiday advertisements, holiday songs, and media reports all feed into showing the perfect holiday, what it “should” look like.  Remember nobody can obtain perfection, and it will only add stress.  Be present, and enjoy the moment that you are in!  That is most likely what your loved one is doing, and so should you.

Review and revise your traditions!  Ask yourself has this tradition become a chore, or do I find enjoyment with it?  Give yourself permission to Simplify.  It is OK to cut back or alter the activity to better fit your loved one’s abilities.

Stick to your normal routine, and be aware of your stress level.  Follow the H.A.L.T.S. self-check strategy.  Ask yourself, “Are you…” Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Scared?  Try to resolve those triggers to reduce your stress.

Prepare your guests with education about how the disease process has impacted your loved one.  Tell them what they can expect from your loved one during the family gatherings.  Offer guidance if needed on the best ways to interact so people aren’t surprised, and don’t shy away from your loved one.

Be mindful of family dynamics and emotions that go along with the holidays.  Family members often fulfill a role within the family.  That will most likely not change, so be mindful of your expectations of family members.  Everyone is looking through a different lens on the situation, and each has unique feelings.  Different perceptions will create different realities.

It is equally important to care for yourself during the holiday season!  Think about the activities that fill your heart with happiness and joy.  Do those activities to “Fill your tank” during the holiday season.  Allow yourself to enjoy the holiday season too!  Give yourself the gift of being present in the moment.