Overwhelmed and stressed-out caregivers may view the holidays as a drain of precious energy rather than a joyous occasion. The love, peace and goodwill are replaced with stress, frustration and anger. Everything from the preparation to the actual event can be tiresome.
Here are some suggestions to help make the holidays more enjoyable and less stressful for caregivers. Keep in mind that the holidays can provide unique opportunities to seek better communication, connection and support from family and friends.
Talk to Family Members Before the Holidays – It is common for caregivers to be disappointed with family members who they feel are not “pulling their weight” in the caregiving responsibilities. Consider clearing the air before the holidays. If this is not a direction you want to take, perhaps resolve within yourself to put those feelings on hold, with the intention to discuss the matter after the holiday season passes. In the meantime, enjoy the holiday. After you have decided when and how much to communicate, you can release the tension of holding onto it and enjoy the festivities.
Ask for Help When Needed – Let family members know that your caregiving duties are keeping you very busy. You only have so much time and energy for holiday preparation and hosting duties. Any reasonable person will understand and hopefully offer their help.
Be Honest – It is understandable to have reservations about opening up too much and being perceived as complaining or inadequate to the task of caregiving. However, honest communication about the realities of your caregiving situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance or at least be in tune to what is going on.
Give the Gift of Gratitude – After the holidays, write a short thank you note to family members or friends who spent time with your loved one. Emphasize the positive impact their visit, or brief time spent with your loved one had on them. This may reinforce positive feelings from their visit and diminish any discomfort they might have experienced. They might be more encouraged to visit again or be more supportive of your efforts.
The holidays should be a time when loved ones come together to enjoy each other’s company. It should not be stressful because of the sometimes tiresome task of taking care of elderly loved ones. By utilizing these tips, you can make your time with family members more enjoyable this holiday season.