Being a caregiver for a loved one is stressful any time of year, but during the hustle, bustle and additional demands of the holidays, many caregivers become overwhelmed physically and emotionally. Some add to their stress the knowledge that this could be the last holiday season with their loved one.
Our family experts offer these practical tips to help caregivers make it through the holidays without losing their twinkle:
Keep it realistic.
Pare down your expectations. Make a list of what you think you can accomplish, and then cut it in half!
Go to the bakery for cookies and breads. Give gift cards. Order pizzas. And say no. Just because you always did something in the past, doesn’t mean you have to do it this year.
If someone offers to help – accept their offer and give them a job – then let them do it without interference.
Take care of yourself. Take 10 minutes every day to sit and just be. Go outside if you can. Clear your brain, and don’t do anything. It’s amazing what this mental break can do for you. Don’t skimp on sleep, and keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum.
Support groups offer sessions in December and January. There may also be support groups and forums online. Talk to trusted friends and family about what you’re going through.
Here’s our special advice for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia:
Focus on the joy and interaction.
Be mindful of the present, and don’t focus on the future.
Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music.
Connect over memories of the past and tell stories.
Setting Realistic Expectations
Don’t expect the holiday season to be perfect. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but those moments can make the best memories, too.
After the holidays are over, you may feel let down or disappointed. Take a look back. Think about what happened that was good and the fun moments here and there.
At any time of year, we suggest ending your day by taking a minute to think of three positive things that happened: Thinking about these things at the end of the day means you go into sleep with a more positive outlook. And when you go into sleep that way, chances are good you’ll wake up that way, too. It’s a simple technique worth trying.