The holidays are over. For some it’s a welcome relief with the promise of a fresh new beginning. However, many Americans will suffer from what we call “post-holiday blues”. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, the days and weeks following the holidays can be especially difficult. Why is that? There are many reasons. Perhaps the holidays were an opportunity to “back burner” your own feelings and anxieties for a few weeks. Now you must face them again as the holidays end. Or perhaps, over the holidays, visiting friends and family made some observations about your loved one with dementia that are unsettling for you. Perhaps you, yourself, have noticed that your mom’s Alzheimer’s symptoms have worsened or that your dad failed to remember a close relative’s name or face!
This post-holiday period is a time when, as a caregiver, you need more support than ever as you pack up the decorations and get back to the business of caring for your loved one and for yourself. Here are 4 ways to conquer those post-holiday blues:
- Don’t push your feelings under the rug. It is not a sign of strength to simply ignore your own physical and emotional health issues. In fact, attempting to deny that anything is wrong can result in serious health issues downstream. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling. It is an important first step towards taking healthy actions to restore your own sense of wellbeing.
- Reinforce ties to supportive relatives and friends. Did you reconnect with special friends or relatives over the holidays? Don’t let those relationships slip away! Work to keep the connections alive. They can become part of your support network when you need a positive word or some help with caregiving responsibilities.
- Schedule a physician visit for your loved one. A fresh new year is a great time to set up appointments to care for your loved one’s physical and mental health. When was the last time your mom or dad had a full physical? It’s an important box to make sure you check, not only for your loved one but for yourself as well!
- Plan at least a week off from caregiving. For caregivers, the holidays can be especially hectic as you struggle to schedule time for family and friends that include your loved one with dementia. It is not uncommon to find your energy depleted and your frame of mind less than positive. Take steps to carve out some time for yourself. Whether that involves finding another family member to care for your loved one or scheduling respite care, it’s so important that you find time to attend to your personal needs. Don’t neglect yourself!
It’s also important to understand that, even if your loved one is still able to care for herself/himself, the time will come when you will need to make a decision as to the best care option for them. So, now is the time to begin looking into them. For some, with a strong neighborhood connection and plenty of family around, the in-home care may work, at least in the short term. If you have a loved one with dementia, however, it is important to add skilled and compassionate professionals to your support team. That’s why it’s important to start your search now, before something happens that makes your search more urgent. Take time to evaluate the various types of care and care communities.
At Anthem Memory Care communities, we always welcome drop in visits. We enjoy walking visitors through our bright and cheerful halls and encourage interaction with caregivers and residents. Feel free to reach out to us as you make your plans for this new year. We’re here to help!