How To Navigate Your Way Through Special Days While Caring For Your Loved One
Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and many other occasions often require remembrance, gifts, or festivities. Pegasus caregivers in Sylmar and elsewhere know how much time and effort celebrations can take. They offer these tips on navigating your way through special days while caring for your loved one.
As a caregiver, you are already meeting the daily needs of your loved one. You may also have other family members that need your attention. If you’re employed outside your home, your life is potentially a 24/7 juggling act.
Now you have to add in celebrating a special occasion or a holiday. There’s food, gifts, traditions, rituals, decorations, and expectations, among myriad other things to test your ability to cope. Oh, and don’t forget the pandemic restrictions and the health issues of everyone concerned.
“Life Is Change”
Nothing stays the same, and that’s true for special occasions. Your celebrations now will likely be different than those you planned before you were a caregiver. First, you’ll need to scale down your expectations, and second, you may need to ask others for help.
Family celebrations are meant to recognize someone’s accomplishment or a significant event in their life. Focus on that, not the trappings of a big party or elaborate gifts. That’s true also for the holidays.
It’s okay to reminisce with others about past celebrations. But avoid comparing then with now. If you can, create a new “tradition.”
Take some time to realistically evaluate how you want the day to be. Consider also the desires, and limitations, of your loved one. Perhaps having one particular person present or one favorite food is enough.
Make A List, Check It Twice, Then Delegate
Even a simple celebration needs planning. A to-do list is your best friend. When you look at everything that needs to be done, remember it’s not all up to you.
Ask friends and family for help. If they can’t, or won’t, then downsize your plans. No one, especially you, will enjoy the occasion if you’re tired and stressed.
As you make arrangements for special days, you may believe that you aren’t doing enough. Or perhaps someone else could do it better. Remember that no one is perfect.
You are doing the best that you can. You are also making someone’s day special because you love them. Accept that love overcomes any imperfections.
You may be struggling with family members who won’t help or participate. Some are in denial about your loved one’s condition. All you can do is recognize that they are either afraid, lack knowledge, or simply don’t want to help.
That does not give them the right to criticize your efforts. Acknowledge what they say, but calmly stand up for yourself. Use their comments as an opportunity to increase their understanding of your loved one’s health and caregiving needs.
Hire help if you need to. Pegasus specialists include housekeepers, dietitians, and companions. They can assist you in making any day special for your loved one.
It’s About Love
Depending on their health, your loved one may be able to help. Even individuals with severe impairments can do simple tasks. Their “help” may not lessen your workload, but it makes them feel special.
Caregivers for individuals with advanced Alzheimer’s or other dementia may wonder if recognizing special days is worth it. They may not realize that both they and their loved one benefit. Recognition shows love on both sides and expressing love works wonders for your health.
Buried deep within a cognitively impaired individual is the person they used to be. They may be aware of and appreciate your efforts. They may not be able to communicate their feelings, but they will know they are loved.
Holidays, in particular, are often times of emotional turmoil. Let go of expectations of ideal family celebrations. Focus on what’s good about the occasion and being with your loved ones right now.
Self-Care Is Essential
Regardless of what special day you want to celebrate, there is one crucial thing for which you must make time. The extent or kind of your plans doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter how busy you are.
The most important thing you must do is set aside some time for self-care. Taking time for yourself is the best way to reduce or prevent caregiver stress. You already know the basics: get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat healthy meals.
As with everything else when celebrating special days, you may need to scale back your self-care. Do what you can, even if all you can carve out is five minutes of “me time.” Avoid quick fixes like indulging in extra desserts to restore your energy.
You may need to just sit quietly and take a few deep breaths. Then do something you enjoy. You’ll be far less stressed and exhausted after even a brief break of a pleasurable activity.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Sylmar and our other locations know how important, but stressful, celebrations can be. We’re here with comprehensive services to help you navigate those special days with your loved ones.