Often,the responsibility of caring for a seniorinvolves navigating a precarious balancing act. From work and family life to the many activities associated with senior caregiving, theres no shortage of priorities fighting for your attention. Then, here come the holidaysa time traditionally thought to bring joy and peace, but which usually makes the to-do list of a senior caregiver that much longer and more complex.
This time can certainly make for some of the most stressful and frustrating moments of your life, and even that of your aging loved one. Even so, you only want whats best for them, and you also deserve to experience the excitement and merriment of the season. With those goals in mind, here are some priceless tips that can help you ease the stress that comes with caring for a senior through the holidays.
Maybe youre not used to tapping into your network for help, but especially during the holiday season, people tend to unleash their spirit of giving. Yes, were all busy this time of year. That doesnt mean you shouldnt ask for what you need in the way of support, whatever that looks like asa senior caregiver. Allow family, friends, and members of your community to give the gift of time and assistance.
Maybe trimming the house with holiday lights feels like an impossible feat for you in between all the responsibilities right now, but perhaps a handy neighbor could do the job in no time at all. Maybe your church or spiritual organization has a meal prep program that you could utilize. Or what if a few different family members could put together a schedule for transporting your aging loved one to and from medical appointments and other events? By requesting and accepting others help, in whatever form it may come, youll find the holidays looking a great deal brighter and a whole lot less stressful for both you and the senior in your care.
Of course, outlining your list of priorities and responsibilities will be an immense help. Plenty of planning and preparation goes a long way when youre juggling senior caregiving with everyday life and the added stress of the holidays. So create your to-do lists and gift lists, mark up your calendar with routine activities and seasonal festivities, and put a good amount of thought into how you expect to manage the next few weeks. More importantly, however, is the ability to adapt.
Not everything will go according to plan, and thats OK. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your aging loved one is to accept what iswith grace, patience, and understanding. Its not always the easiest feat, but its the most worthwhile one because it gives you and your loved one the opportunity to make the best of this time of year.
Realize that you may not be able to do ALL the traditions or in the manner to which youre accustomed. By accepting that reality and learning to go with the flow, you can get the utmost enjoyment out of each merry moment the holidays bring. Set more realistic expectations, get others in your circle on the same page, anddo what you can to make acceptance and adaptation integral aspectsof your holiday approach.
The truth is caregivers are called upon to do so much, continually giving of themselves in any number of ways. Often sandwiched between the needs of their senior parents and those of their children who havent yet left the nest, they can easily neglect their own needsespecially during such a busy time of year. And while you may want to do everything possible to make the holidays just perfect for everyone, caregiver burnout is a REAL risk with highly detrimental outcomes in the way of physical, mental, and emotional health.
During the holidays more than ever,its essential to take time for yourself, recharging your batteries and getting what you need to feel happy and whole. Whatever you need to do to make self-care the priority throughout the season, do it. Maybe this means going back to the first tip, and asking for support from others so you can make time for yourself. In the long run, this is the very thing that will enable you to embrace the holidays in such a way that you can care for both your aging loved one and your family with greater energy, enthusiasm, and cheer.
Lets face it: The average person, regardless of their aging loved ones needs, is NOT a professional caregiver. As you step into this role and take on all that comes with it, youre bound to require a break at some point this season. And rest assured, its perfectly normal to need a vacation from caregiving, sodont feel guilty about wanting to find optionsfor alleviating some of this highly consuming stress. Following are some beneficial solutions in the way ofprofessional support:
The bottom line is that there are a number of ways you can get professional care and support for your loved one, whether temporarily during the holiday season or on a longer-term basis. Leverage these options to help ease seasonal stress and procure the best care for the senior in your life.
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