If you are a caregiver, sometimes the holiday season gives rise to stress, frustration and anger, instead of peace and good will.
You may feel resentful towards other family members who they feel have not offered enough assistance. Already feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities at the holidays, stressed-out caregivers may view traditional holiday preparations as more of a drain of precious energy than a joy.
To make the holidays more enjoyable for you and your loved ones, keep in mind there are many opportunities to communicate better, connect with each other and ask for support from family and friends.
- The holidays can provide an opportunity for communication. It’s hard to know how much to communicate about a loved one’s decline in cognitive functioning and personal care needs. Although it is understandable to have reservations about discussing a loved one’s impairments, honest communication about the realities of the caregiving situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance. Sharing the truths of your situation may help reduce some of the feelings of isolation and lack of appreciation common in caregivers.
- Some caregivers have had success in writing a brief note or leaving notes describing the person’s condition in a holiday card. This is a non-threatening way to inform distant or uninvolved relatives about the realities of the caregiving situation.
- If you’re truly upset or disappointed in other family members who may not have done their part, you must decide how much and when to communicate this disappointment. Consider clearing the air before the holidays or perhaps resolve within yourself to put those feelings on hold, with the intention to discuss the matter after the holiday season passes. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday!
- Accept all the help you can get – and go with the flow. Caregivers often have to adapt their traditional role or experience of the holidays. This may mean allowing another family member to host more time-intensive festivities. You may need to modify the amount of time away from home to match the comfort level of your impaired loved one. You may also have to choose which events to attend based on which would be the simplest, least exhausting and most enjoyable for the person for whom you provide care—and for you.
- Schedule one on one time with family members other than yourself so you, too, can enjoy some alone time. While caregiving, it is easy to get caught up in all the tasks of personal care and homemaking chores. Make a point of setting some time aside this holiday season to enjoy the person you care for in a relaxed, one-on-one context. The best activities are those which take advantage of long-term memory—usually less impaired in people with dementia. Try looking through family photo albums or unpacking holiday decorations, which may stimulate memories.
And always remember, a little thank you goes a long way. After the holidays, write a thank you note to family members or friends who spent time with your loved one. Emphasize the positive impact their visit or brief time spent with your loved one had on them. This may reinforce positive feelings from their visit and diminish any discomfort they experienced. They may then be more encouraged to visit again or be more supportive of your efforts.
Happy Holidays 2015 and enjoy the magic of the season from Hopkinton Home Care!
Our service areas include Ashland, Bellingham, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Southborough, Upton, Westborough, Whitinsville and surrounding towns in the Metrowest.
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