Who doesn’t want that picture-perfect holiday celebration? But for caregivers who are taking care of a long-term ill member, the challenges may cause you to feel like skipping the celebrations this year. After all, you barely have enough time to shop for home necessities, much less buy Christmas gifts for others. Then there are the feelings of the person you are caring for to consider, too. Among those who are restrained from various activities due to their health, the holidays can be a trigger for sad thoughts and feelings. Taking all this into consideration, how does a caregiver cope with the holidays?
Here are some tips that will help you feel the warmth of the season while minimizing the potential for stress.
Take advantage of outside help to allow a little time off for yourself.
A common form of stress for caregivers during the holidays is feeling they are missing out due to their nursing duties. And with all the effort put into making sure their ill loved one feels happy during the holidays, the caregiver’s own needs might end up being neglected.
Now is the time to call in that favor from a friend or a loved one to help with shopping, house upkeep, or whatever else they can take off your hands. It is the season of giving, after all, and you could just be providing them with a happy buzz that comes when giving to others. Look for other ways to lighten your load so you can keep a couple holiday traditions that are special to you. For example, research a home health caregiver to take over a couple hours a day, so you can get your out-of-house chores done.
Think about what is important to you this holiday. What event or activity will help you partake of the celebrations in a way that won’t be too much work or stress for you? Pick something that will give you a special memory and help you feel that you are caring for yourself, too. Choose wisely and choose well.
Not all activities are equal or will give you the same amount of enjoyment. Since you are operating on limited time, you will need to be picky about what holiday events you attend or adhere to, and which you’ll waive until next year. Instead of deciding on each event as the date nears, look at your calendar as a whole. Know where you will be able to get additional help with caregiving. And see which events are spaced far apart enough so that you are not cramming too much one after the other.
Plan in advance for your loved one.
Make holiday plans with your loved one. Find the occasions where your loved one can participate in the holiday spirit without too much stress or strain. If your loved one is restricted due to his or her illness, then organize something within the house. Decide together what the activity will be. The activity itself need not be elaborate. In fact, the more elaborate you make it, the more stress you may end up feeling. Your loved one’s health might also benefit from something low key.
The important thing is that the loved one has something to look forward to and can feel that he or she is being included in holiday plans. Some low-key activities include watching a Christmas-themed film and inviting family members over. Writing Christmas cards together. Being involved in decorating, even if it is only to voice an opinion.
Relook at Christmas gift giving.
Christmas gift giving traditions can be one of the main sources of stress for most Americans. The reasons are plenty. First, the cost, which averages to near $600 for gift buying for family and friends.
Then there’s the amount of time spent in searching and buying those gifts. Which often end up being given or thrown away a few years down the line. With caregiving costs for your loved one likely falling on your shoulders, why not shake things up this year? Let your family and friends know that if they wish to get you a present, they could help toward medical costs, home repairs, or by helping you get some time off!
And what you should give to others? Deciding to forego gift-giving can feel scary at first and like you will be alienating family and friends. When in fact, you might be opening the door to new traditions and ways of celebrating the Christmas spirit.