Holidays and Caregiving
We all know that Holidays can be a very stressful time just in living an ordinary family life.
There is much confusion with the hustle and bustle of preparing for extra company, fixing special meals and playing the host while trying to also enjoy the whole experience ourselves. For the caregiver, this time can add a whole new set of stresses to an already stressful situation.
During the holidays it is important for caregivers to seek a balance – between caring for their care-partner and caring for yourself. Holidays don’t always have to be done the way they have in the past. Old traditions don’t always fit with new realities. Please give yourself permission to create new traditions.
While caregiving, it is easy to get caught up in all the tasks of personal care and homemaking chores. Make a point of setting some time aside this holiday season to enjoy your care partner in a relaxed, one-on-one context. Try to include your loved one in some holiday preparations. Focus on their remaining strengths, and let them use their own capabilities to help with small tasks and activities. This will add joy and purpose to their holiday.
The best activities are those which take advantage of long-term memory—usually less impaired in people with dementia. Try looking through family photo albums or unpacking holiday decorations together, having holiday music playing throughout the house or baking a simple holiday bread or cookie together. These activities stimulate memories through the senses of sight, sound, smell and touch and taste.
This might mean allowing another family member to host more time-intensive festivities or modifying the amount of time away from home to match the comfort level of your care-partner.
You may also have to choose which events to attend based on which would be the simplest, least exhausting and most enjoyable for the person for whom you provide care—and
With the holidays comes decorating. Try to minimize the amount of clutter that this may add.
Try to schedule the major activities for the day early in the day. When you both are fresh and ready for the new day.
Save a time at the end of each day for sitting to discuss the day an reflect on past holiday traditions and memories.
Finally, be sure to fit some time in for yourself this holiday season. If you have family visiting,
then use them to your advantage. Take a few minutes sometime during the day to pamper yourself!
Remember this is your holiday too, and do not be afraid to let family know that a little quiet time for yourself could be a gift beyond measure. Something as simple as a solitary walk, a 30 minute nap, a aroma-filled bubble bath will refresh you and help you to enjoy the holidays that much more too.
The Caregiving.com website had a Caregivers Wish List that I’d like to share
(print and send or forward a copy to everyone who might ask you, what you need as a caregiver)
· Restaurant gift cards. To treat your loved one and yourself, or to use with a friend on a precious time-away outing.
· Gift cards to your preferred local grocery or gas station. Let others know you don’t need more trinkets, if that’s the case. Why not get what you really need?
· An “of the month” gift: Fruits or veggies of the month boost health. Flowers of the month boost cheer. So do chocolate, coffee, and bath supplies. Best: The treat lasts all year.
· Netflix subscription. The ease of movies right to your mailbox practically overnight, or faster in the case of Netflix streaming.
· A day spa visit. Not being a pampery girl, this doesn’t thrill me personally — but I once knew a caregiver who swore her monthly pedicure saved her sanity. And who deserves head-to-toe pampering more than a caregiver? (Ideally, caregiver-duty relief included.)
· An electronic reader (iPad, Kindle, Nook, etc.). So you can read a few lines here and there wherever you can grab the minutes without losing the book.
· A high-tech upgrade. No time to get faster Internet service? Or simplify the six remotes it takes to operate your TV-music system? Or download the latest software? Ask a teenager or young adult to set you up.
· Customized playlists. Another great gift from a teen: Music. Give a sense of the music you like and ask for CDs or playlists just for you — a Bad Day Mix, an Energize Mix, a Sunday Morning Mix.
· Respite-care I-owe-you coupons!! No explanation necessary.