Being a caregiver bring many gifts and joys, as well as additional stress. During the holiday season – when things are hectic enough “normally” – adding caregiver duties can be a little overwhelming. How do you prepare now before the holidays in order to help “care” for yourself and your health?
Keep things in perspective
Receive the torch gracefully
Perhaps your parent for whom you are caring was the one who kept the holiday spirit alive in your family, and now due to their ill health the job has been passed to you. Break down what you cherished the most about their holiday efforts. Pick one thing that is meaningful to you – perhaps a special dish or traditional game or activity that you would play together. Communicate with everyone who is planning to visit that you are going to keep things simple this year, that you are going to use that meal or activity as a base, and other can build upon that this year or in the years to come. This will give you a mental break and allow others to participate in creating your “new” traditions.
As a caregiver, you may be disappointed with family members that you feel are not “pulling their weight” in caregiving responsibilities. Especially if the others who could be helping live far away from the person who needs care, and you just “happen” to be close by and have the bulk of the responsibilities. Decide how much and when to communicate. Timing is everything. Consider putting those feelings on hold, or getting them out in the air weeks before everyone arrives. The goal is to be sure to have enough issues resolved so that you enjoy your time together, or at least agree to set aside differences during the visit.
You don’t have to allow every holiday season to be a reminder of those you have lost (or may lose in the near future) or memorable times gone by. Your community has holiday social events that you can plug into for free or a small entrance fee. Pick one and make it worth it, something that makes you laugh or that you can enjoy with your entire being and with a happy heart.