The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together. And, it can get a little crazy with parties, impromptu get-togethers and out of town relatives to attend to. If you are a caregiver you know, first hand, the stress this can cause. Not only do you have a loved one to care for, you have been taken out of your routine and swept up in a swirl of activities. And some of them you could probably live without.
The holidays are survivable. But you must put your priorities on top of all those well-meaning friends and relatives. You need to take control.
Here are seven tips that will help you survive (and even enjoy) the rest of the holidays:
- Put everyone on alert: Let friends and relatives know that your gift to yourself this year is to slow things down over the holidays. This benefits the one you care for as well. Once you put out an alert, you may be amazed at the respect you get. Be firm.
- Accept “help”, but do it carefully: Well-meaning friends and relatives may offer to help with your caregiving duties to give you a break. That’s great, but make sure they are a) capable and b) reliable. When you do accept help, make sure the individual is aware you are counting on him or her. There is nothing worse than anticipating a relaxing afternoon only to have it vanish with one of those “I’m so sorry” calls.
- Use your calendar: Put all those activities that you decide to accept, even minor ones, on your calendar. What is visible becomes more manageable.
- Just say “No”: Make sure that you keep to your normal caregiver routine as much as possible. “Just say no” to any activities that interfere or put more stress on you and the loved one you care for.
- Try to keep your evenings free: Try to schedule any lunch or dinner visits early in the day, rather than a later. It’s less stressful for the person you care for and helps you get the sleep you need.
- Get outside support: Find a local caregiver’s support group and make sure you attend! Talking with other caregivers and professionals helps reduce stress, especially during the holidays.
- Schedule a respite “holiday”: Try to schedule a short respite stay for your loved one, if not during the holidays, then right after the holidays. For yourself, schedule a few enjoyable outings or a massage during that period. It will help buoy up your spirits, knowing you have some days to yourself up ahead.
Above all, be sure to take advantage of resources. Anthem Memory Care communities provide respite care during the holidays. We also hold free monthly dementia support groups. The Alzheimer’s Association has a great hotline with 24/7 information and advice. They can be reached at 727-578-2558 or the 24-hour Helpline at 1-800-772-8672. They are there to help and will be open on Christmas and New Year’s Day.