Today I Learned...
- Holidays can be hard as a caregiver, but there are strategies to combat the stress
- Be prepared, accept and ask for help, and keep self-care strategies at the top of your to-do list
- Preparation and planning can ensure a great holiday for both caregivers and their loved ones
he holidays are a great time to get together with loved ones, but they’re also often stressful for caregivers.
As the primary caregiver for an elderly family member or friend, you have all the responsibilities of any other time of year plus extra responsibilities. If you feel that stress getting to be too much, there are several things you can do to make sure your holiday season is as happy and relaxing as possible.
Here are 6 tips to beat the holiday stress as a caregiver:
1. Focus on what's most meaningful.
Make sure that your focus is on what's most important—your loved one and their needs. This can help reduce the stress of everything else going on around you during this busy season.
Though we may strive to create the perfect holiday, what really matters is finding meaning and joy in whatever celebrations we choose. There are many things we can’t control when it comes to our loved one's health and abilities, so focus on the things that matter most.
2. Start new traditions.
The holidays are all about spending time with your family, but if you're caring for someone with dementia or another condition that makes it hard for them to get out and about, it can be hard for them to feel included in these traditions.
That's why it's important to start new traditions that everyone will enjoy! For example: If your loved one loves watching Christmas specials on TV, set up an annual tradition of watching all their favorite shows together.
3. Keep self-care at the top of the list.
Self-care is always important, but it's especially important during the holidays when everything feels like it's more stressful than usual.
Take some time alone every day—even if it's just five minutes—to do something that makes you feel good.
Here are some self-care activities you can do:
- Try taking a walk to clear your head
- Go to the gym to get some exercise
- Get a massage
- Take a bath (you can even light some candles)
- Read a book by yourself—just make sure it's not something stressful like an action thriller!
Lastly, one of the most important things you can do is keep a positive attitude.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Whether you need help with physical tasks, emotional support or financial assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends.
Sometimes it can even be a good idea to hire professionals—for instance, if your loved one needs in-home care services, consider hiring a caregiver to assist them. Your local community also offers helpful resources; for example, some cities have senior centers that provide access to transportation and other services that can make life easier on your behalf.
5. Connect with other caregivers.
If you want to find others in your situation, try connecting with local dementia associations or organizations that support families affected by Alzheimer's or other diseases.
These organizations will often have events specifically for caregivers during the holidays, so you can meet other people who are going through what you're going through. You might even find friends who share interests like music or knitting!
Learn more about how to find a hobby that's right for you:
6. Make sure you get time to yourself.
As a caregiver, it can be tempting to push yourself to the limit and neglect your own needs. This is especially true during holiday time when stress tends to be at its highest. But you need to make sure that you are looking after yourself in addition to caring for your loved one. If possible, try and get some time away from them or even just an hour alone each day where you can relax and recharge.
We hope these tips will help you to enjoy your holiday season as much as possible!
Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be fun. And most importantly, don’t forget that you are not alone in this journey and there are resources out there for you.