More than half of employed caregivers work a full-time job in addition to helping their ill or disabled loved ones with daily tasks. Even if you don't have a job, you may spend time volunteering in the community, raising children or taking care of furry friends. It can be difficult to balance these commitments any time of the year, but it's especially difficult with the demands of the hectic holiday season. Before you skip family gatherings or give up on buying gifts for friends and family, try these helpful tips to reduce caregiver stress during the holidays.
1. Take a Break
Even the best caregivers get tired sometimes. It's important to take time to recharge, whether that's by letting your neighbor make dinner while you nap or asking another family member take over your loved one's morning routine for a couple weeks. If nobody you know can help, or if your loved one misses social interaction with others, consider a community such as Brightview Senior Living. At Brightview, we offer respite care services so family members can practice self-care knowing their loved ones are safe and happy in our vibrant community.
2. Lower Your Expectations
There may have been a time when you spent days baking cookies and casseroles from scratch or carefully crafting handmade gifts for loved ones. Maybe you even went caroling around the community with your family and friends or invested hours installing Christmas lights and other outdoor decor. It's okay if you can't do those things now; you can still find ways to make the holidays special. Consider adopting new traditions, such as watching a holiday movie while eating store-bought snacks together instead of fighting to keep old ones alive.
3. Plan for Potential Issues
Think about what triggers your loved one. Does she get overwhelmed by crowds or struggle with steps? Does he hate loud noises or often develop depression during the holidays? You can prevent these issues by hosting brief events in your home instead of attending crowded family functions or visiting homes with icy driveways or multiple flights of stairs.
If you know your loved one is prone to seasonal depression or anxiety, schedule an appointment with their primary care provider (PCP) or mental health professional just before the holiday season starts. You may be able to tweak medication dosages or request a take-as-needed psychiatric medication to help your loved one cope with seasonal stressors.
4. Say No When Needed
Keep things simple this holiday season. You don't have to attend every event you receive an invitation for, and you don't need to buy gifts for everyone you know. Pick a few special celebrations, and leave early if you feel too exhausted or overwhelmed to socialize for long. Simplify gift-giving by only buying presents for children or a few family members, or skip the shopping mall and buy everyone digital gift cards instead.
It's okay to say no to extra duties or requests for assistance, too. If your boss wants you to work overtime but you feel like you can't balance extra shifts with your caregiver duties, say no. If you usually volunteer at the local soup kitchen on Thanksgiving but feel like you need to dedicate the day to caring for your loved one, decline this year's request for help. You can always take on more social events or work-related commitments when you're ready, so don't be too hard on yourself if you can't handle them now.
Holiday traditions are comforting, but it's not always possible to hold on to them when your loved one requires special care. Make the most of this magical time of year by trying the tips above, and don't hesitate to reach out to a Brightview Senior Living community if you're wondering whether your loved one can benefit from a senior living community.