Although the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a time of great joy and fellowship, many folks (even the most chaos-tolerant among us) will admit to facing at least some stress, whether the source is gift selection, kitchen duty or trying to keep the peace in a fractious family.
And if you’re the primary caregiver for an elderly relative, the stress is compounded by the day-to-day realities of that responsibility. While there’s a tendency to recall the past—those “happier” and “easier” times when the person requiring your care was able to take care of him or herself (or even you!), it is very important to embrace the “here and now,” and, moreover, be truly thankful for the time you still have with your loved one.
Some novel, and relatively painless, methods of coping with the stresses of a caregiver holiday should revolve around establishing new traditions. Designate someone else in the family to host the holiday
dinner. If no one rises to the occasion, consider a family “pot luck.” You can serve the main entry and drinks, while guests bring their favorite sides and desserts. The goal: to take at least take some of the workload off your hands – and mind.
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Also, caregivers who find their shopping time limited should give consideration to non- traditional shopping, such as utilizing the internet or catalogs for some gifts. The best advice, however, is to remember to carve out some time just for you. A few hours spent away from home might be just the ticket to beating the blues and regaining some much- needed energy to counter the tasks that lie ahead. Or ask another family member or friend to take your senior relative out to do his or her own holiday shopping, while you enjoy the quiet of a clean, decorated house.
Proper planning is your best friend. If you can ensure that your loved one in need is being cared for, you can better enjoy your own personal time, guilt-free and conscience intact.
And never forget that seniors don’t want to be in a situation where they feel they’ve lost their independence either. They fear being a burden and interfering with your ability to enjoy the holidays. Caregiving can be a rough business for all concerned, and the holidays are a catalyst for heightened emotions.
Holiday Lesson: Instead of letting your emotions carry you off to a stressful place, revel in the moment and truly embrace the notion that one day, this time will be “the good old days.”
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