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Hope For The Holidays

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Caregivers are stretched to the max during the majority of the year, but during the holiday season, this stress can take on an entirely different meaning.

Expectations and Traditions

Caregivers must first and foremost be realistic. Our culture tends to paint a perfect holiday picture of families gathered around a fireplace, drinking eggnog and laughing happily. That happens, of course, but it doesnít show the caregiver in the background frantically trying to keep it all together and meet each generationís expectations of holiday bliss.

Caregivers must acknowledge that being realistic will save a lot of undo stress. If a loved one needs extra attention, especially with the holidays, whether it be visits, trips out and about, or even just family party hopping, it can be exhausting for caregiver and loved one alike.

Many times, large gatherings can be overwhelming for a loved one, so a caregiver may suggest family members visit on an individual basis, spending quieter quality time together. This is especially true for loved ones with dementia.

Make a list of traditions, and prioritize which ones can realistically be held onto and which ones perhaps must be adapted or eliminated. Itís not failure if some get skipped, or changed to accommodate a familyís new needs and dynamics. Every new holiday will bring with it new memories of times with loved ones, regardless of the whereís and howís.  

Guilt is something a caregiver struggles with over the holidays, and usually ties into the level of care they are providing. Itís time consuming to be aware and provide for someone elseís needs, as well as make time for visiting family members, travel they must do, etc.   

Almost all caregiving advice articles mention the importance of asking for help. Yes, itís important to do year-round; but during the holidays, even more so.
One part of getting help is making sure the caregiver gets enough sleep, exercise and good nutrition.  Itís difficult to take care of others when not taking care of yourself first. Clichť, yes, but true nonetheless.

The holiday season is a time of joy and family, and a loved one will appreciate that no matter how itís celebrated or if things may change. Keeping traditions is important, but a caregiver must realize new traditions can begin at any time.


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