Caregiver or not, the holidays can be stressful. There’s expectations to meet, family gatherings to attend and baking to do. As a caregiver though, there’s even more on your plate. There’s a whole other person to think about every time you answer a dinner invite or plan to go Christmas shopping.
Here are our top 3 tips for surviving the holidays. Why only 3 tips? Because we wanted to keep it simple. Your Christmas shopping list is long enough and the last thing we want to do is add more items to your list.
Plan to be Flexible
The holidays are a time to be with family. We stop our whirlwind lives for a minute to connect with those we love. Connection is good for you and your loved one. It allows you a chance to share your experience with your friends and family and might even give you a few extra hands to help.
The downside is that you and your loved one’s energy levels need to be replenished regularly. You might need to steal away from the crowd to have some quiet time or a quick nap. You might need to get your husband home to have the best night’s sleep he is capable of at this time. Instead of declining every invite, opt for those that you think you can handle. Always preface your answer with the disclaimer that you might need to leave early or cancel at the last minute. Your friends and family will understand.
Before you have visitors over, try to mentally prepare them for seeing your loved one. If your nieces and nephews are coming in from out of town and haven’t talked to or seen Grandma since her health has declined, it will be difficult for them to adjust. By telling your nieces and nephews that Grandma needs assistance when going to the bathroom or forgets her thoughts mid-sentence, you are lessoning the shock of reality for them. You are used to dealing with Grandma and her illness, her grandkids are not. They may have questions to ask and won’t feel comfortable asking in front of Grandma. Your visit will go smoother and every one will be better able to connect if a conversation is started early on.
It’s okay to reminisce about the old times and share fond memories. Your loved one deserves to know what kind of impact he or she had on their friends and family. Feel free to give your visitors some talking points as well. It will help open the conversation for those who don’t know what to say.
Keep It Simple
It’s okay to say no to dinner and party invitations. It’s okay to give 5 people on your list a gift card to the same restaurant. The fact that you took the time to purchase anything for anyone is a miracle!
Understand that your expectations are just that, yours. No one else is expecting you to do anything for them this year. It’s a tough year (or more) for you and the people in your life should understand that. If they don’t realize that, they’re not in touch with the reality of the situation. And, that’s okay. Over time they will understand. All you can do is bow out gracefully from invites, explain (one time) why you are declining and then get back to taking care of you and your loved one.
At CHSLC, we understand what you are going through and we guarantee you are doing a great job taking care of your loved one. You’re doing your best and that’s all he or she could ask of you.