Tips To Help Caregivers Cope During The Holidays
The holidays are traditionally a time of joy and celebration for most people. However, when you’re responsible for the care of a loved one, your pleasure can diminish. Pegasus caregivers in Rosemead and elsewhere offer these tips for caregiving during the holidays to keep things enjoyable for everyone.
Ask For Help
Number one on the list is to ask for assistance. The kind of help will depend on whether your loved one resides in your home. It will also depend on the mental and physical health of the individual.
It would be wonderful if others volunteered rather than put you in the position of asking. But when they don’t, you need to take the initiative. Getting their assistance during the holidays can lead to more support during other times of the year.
Others likely aren’t aware of what you do day in and day out. They may think you’re fine doing everything yourself. You can tell them, but it’s more effective to involve them.
Start with little things, like helping with holiday decorations. Gradually progress to the daily caregiving duties. Keep in mind that sometimes others don’t know what to do or are afraid of making a mistake.
Forget About Expectations Or Making Everything Perfect
Next on your list is changing your expectations. Ignore everything the advertising and traditions have to say about the perfect holiday. Perfection is either a fantasy or the result of faulty memory.
Despite all that you see or hear, everyone else isn’t having a perfect holiday. You are not alone. As a caregiver, you have responsibilities that may already be overwhelming.
Trying to meet everyone’s holiday expectations can push you over the edge. It’s time to tell them that you’re simplifying. Set priorities.
Explain, respectfully, to other family members what you can and cannot do. Acknowledge their feelings and disappointment that things won’t “be what we always do.” Let them know you love them and want them to be happy, but circumstances are different now.
Make the most of what you can do, with or without their help. Your best effort is good enough. What is doable is a better holiday criterion than unattainable perfection.
You’re making progress. You have asked for help and discussed realistic expectations. Now it’s time to celebrate what’s important.
Celebrate what you have now. Celebrate those who are still living. Let go of the anxiety and feelings of helplessness about how things have changed.
Accept the changes. Despite your caregiving responsibilities, there’s much to be grateful for. For starters, you’re capable of meeting those responsibilities.
Yes, you have a lot to do, even with simpler celebrations. And remembering those who are no longer with you saddens you. But you still have friends and family with whom to celebrate.
Holidays are a time to give thanks. Being with those you love gives any celebration meaning. That’s true even when your loved one has Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairment.
If other family members are unaware of your loved one’s mental or physical condition, prepare them ahead of time. Try to schedule visits and activities so your loved one doesn’t become overwhelmed. No matter how simple or insignificant the task is, give your loved one something to do or make.
The individual that everyone knew remains deep inside a cognitively impaired person. They may not recognize everyone or even know which holiday it is. But they can still enjoy the company, and their hearts will celebrate.
Make New Memories
What about the traditions and rituals that have always been a part of your holiday celebrations? Keep what you can. Then start making new ones.
Rituals and traditions can be comforting. They can also help link the generations. You may be able to incorporate parts of the old into a new way of celebrating.
All traditions and rituals were new once. Most fit the abilities and wishes of the individuals who initiated them. You can do the same now.
For example, instead of you spending a week in the kitchen cooking, have a festive dinner catered. Or ask guests to bring a dish. By next year, Cousin Sue’s famous gravy will be a “tradition” that everyone expects.
It’s fun to take a trip through the neighborhoods looking at decorations. It’s also a lot of work for the person organizing the excursion. Start a new ritual by asking everyone to contribute a meaningful decoration for your home.
Play music. Watch a funny movie. Whatever that is doable and enjoyable for you and your loved one is how you make new memories.
Finally, take care of yourself. The best thing you can do for all of your loved ones is to de-stress with self-care. Self-care is not selfish, because the more you do for yourself, the more you’re able to do for others.
Take a nap. Remind yourself that this too will pass. Try some of these suggestions from other caregivers for reducing holiday stress.
One of the services provided by Pegasus caregivers in Rosemead and our other locations is respite care. We provide in-home care for your loved one when you need a break. We’re always here for you regardless of the level of assistance required.