According to statistics from the Caregiver Action Network, family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide. They spend an average of 20 hours a week providing care for loved ones with special needs. This season, approximately 65 million people will be balancing their long-term caregiving responsibilities with family, work, and holiday planning.
The holidays can be a challenge for everyone, but it can be especially challenging for the family caregiver.
To help you manage your time, here are some tips to help prepare you for a stress-free holiday:
Be clear about your holiday plans
Oftentimes, “fitting it all in” becomes the focus of the holidays, but overbooking yourself can add a lot of stress to the season. Instead, decide early on what you want and don’t want to do. Be realistic about your time and choose the invitations you’re excited to take. Don’t feel guilty about opting out of plans that put a burden on your already busy schedule.
Ask someone for help when you need it
Many family caregivers feel badly about asking for help, because it can feel like you are burdening someone else, but everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. If you need help, ask for it—whether it’s someone to talk to or someone to pick up your mother’s medicine from the pharmacy. You will be surprised by how helpful people want to be and how good it feels to have just a little bit more free time.
Prepare your loved one for events outside of their normal routine
Whether you are caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs, preparation can mean the difference between peaceful moments and meltdowns. Prepare your loved one for holiday parties by sharing your plans a few weeks ahead of time. Talk about what they can expect and who else will be there. Use pictures to help them identify the faces they will see. If your loved one has very specific dietary needs, prepare the foods they enjoy ahead of time and bring the meal with you.
Enlist a backup caregiver so you can go out more
Your loved one may have certain stress triggers, like loud noises or crowds that make it difficult for them to enjoy an event, especially events with unfamiliar guests. Instead of cancelling your plans, reach out to another family member, friend, or neighbor to sit with your loved one for the night. Ask a person your loved one enjoys spending time with and plan a special activity, like a movie marathon or arts and crafts project that they can do together to make the evening special for everyone.
Create new traditions with your loved ones
The challenge of both caregiving and the holidays is finding the time to get it all done. From shopping to decorating, traditions that may have been easy to honor in the past seem impossible to accomplish now. Instead of adding the pressure of perfecting those traditions, create new ones that are more in line with the lifestyle you now live. Mixing new and old traditions can allow for a much more balanced and stress-free holiday season.
Let go of the urgency to get it all done and choose a joyful path. Embrace the spirit of the holidays by surrounding yourself with the people who love and support you.
Contact us today to explore the benefits of home health care for you or your loved one.