Discover Pre-Planning Tips For A Less Stressful Holiday Season For Everyone, Including Individuals With Dementia
The holidays are always busy for Pegasus skilled in-home caregivers in San Marino and elsewhere. As well as their personal celebrations, they’re often helping their senior clientele and their families. Our career home health care nurses know the value of pre-planning to reduce holiday stress.
Family caregivers are often part of in-home care. You probably interact with them on several levels as part of your patient care. Sharing the tips in this article can reduce holiday stress for you and them.
Say Hello To Reality
Individuals commonly have fantasies of the perfect holiday celebration. You or they may be thinking of past holidays, especially from childhood when others made all the arrangements. Or perhaps you or family caregivers have determined that this year will be the year that everything is perfect.
Careful pre-planning can bring you and your senior clientele closer to that elusive goal. But be prepared to accept that even “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Decide to simply enjoy yourself with family, friends, and food despite what “goes awry.”
The first, and most important, step for you and family caregivers is to schedule “me-time.” It doesn’t matter how much else there is to do; it is crucial to include personal time to unwind in your plans. No one will enjoy festivities in an atmosphere of exhaustion or tension.
Family caregivers may feel guilty taking time for themselves. Remind them that not caring for themselves hampers their ability to care for their loved ones. Help them learn appropriate self-care techniques.
Eat, Drink, And Be Merry
Planning a meal for an extended family? You already know you have to deal with various dietary restrictions and preferences. But it’s a good idea to contact the invitees early to ask about changes.
And while you’re at it, ask them what dish they’d like to contribute to the festivities. There’s nothing wrong with making that special meal a potluck served buffet style. It could be the start of a new tradition where everyone eats exactly what they want.
Don’t overlook COVID. Can individuals attend if they aren’t vaccinated? Are masks required indoors except when eating or drinking?
What about difficult family members? If you’re obligated to invite them, do your best to accept them as they are. Avoid all discussions of grievances until another time.
Family caregivers are often subject to criticism from non-caregiving relatives. Additional tips that can help them cope include, but aren’t limited to:
- Accepting that their reactions are the only thing they can control
- Being realistic in their expectations
- Breathing deeply and taking breaks
- Choosing physical activity rather than alcohol/drugs to decrease stress
These tips, of course, also apply to you when you have to deal with critical or negative family members. Planning and practicing a tolerant mindset in advance helps keep interactions civil, and potentially festive.
Set Priorities, Say No To Doing Too Much, And Stay Flexible
Everyone is busy now, but making time for pre-planning can reduce holiday tension. What’s one thing you have to do as part of celebrating that stresses you more than anything else? Do it today, ahead of time.
Say no to doing everything for everyone or trying to please others. Decide what is most important or meaningful to you. Make doing that a priority, and skip or delegate activities or events that overwhelm you.
You and your senior clientele can eliminate the most significant sources of holiday stress by:
- Doing less rather than more
- Laughing off mishaps
- Letting things go
- Slowing down
- Trying new things
Preparing schedules and to-do lists help keep things organized. But as those who are caregivers for loved ones know, flexibility is essential.
Many families have lost loved ones to death during the year. Holiday planning should allow time to acknowledge grief and feelings of loss. Sharing memories or observing special rituals helps individuals cope with their emotions.
Celebrating When A Loved One Has Dementia
Caregivers for loved ones with dementia may require additional planning to minimize stress. The following suggestions, although advised for children, help with planning for individuals with severe cognitive impairment:
- Decorate gradually over a period of several days if the individual is upset by changes.
- Prepare a quiet place where the loved one can feel calm and safe when things get noisy or chaotic.
- Suggest gifts that match the loved one’s cognitive abilities. That might mean avoiding small items that can be swallowed or items that are difficult to handle safely.
- Warn family members in advance about what to expect from their loved one if they haven’t been around recently.
Caregivers usually understand what circumstances overwhelm their cognitively impaired loved one. With adequate planning, including them in holiday festivities can bring them joy.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our professional caregivers in San Marino and our other locations offer all levels of in-home services. We, and our career home health care nurses, wish you a joyous holiday celebration with your loved ones.