Managing Caregiver Stress During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a busy time of year for families of all shapes and sizes. Holiday parties, shopping, and a seemingly revolving door of guests are what make the holiday season so fun. However, when you act as a caregiver for an elderly loved one, these are the exact same details that can add to the stress of the season, and managing caregiver stress during the holiday season can be particularly challenging.

Times of stress are normal for all caregivers, but the holiday season brings its own set of challenges. Make this year a little easier with these tips for managing caregiver stress during the holiday season.

Adapt your holiday traditions

When you care for an older adult during the holiday season, you may have to change some of your traditions. Some traditions, like a grand holiday party, might need to be put off to accommodate your loved one’s needs. Other traditions, like a family dinner, might need to be changed to better fit your time constraints.

Talk with your family and elderly loved one to determine how you should celebrate the holiday season this year. Consider shifting your energy from one event to a more manageable holiday celebration—like forgoing a holiday party and instead turning your home into a winter wonderland.

Host large family gatherings elsewhere

If your home is the spot where the extended family all gather during the holidays, it may be worth asking another loved one to take over. With so many guests in and out of your home, you spend a great deal of time cleaning, making meals, and tending to other hosting responsibilities. Adding these care responsibilities on top of your elder care can be positively overwhelming.

Should a loved one be able to host the family gathering at their house instead, all you have to worry about is getting your elderly loved one to and from the event. If there isn’t a better option for hosting, ask your family members to take over the many hosting responsibilities at your home. This will help make it so you aren’t stretched so thin.

Ask for help

In the vein of the above tip, do not avoid asking for help. A support system is crucial to your overall mental health and success as a caregiver. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends for additional help during the holiday season. Something as simple as bringing a meal over or watching your elderly loved one while you run out to do the shopping can make a world of difference.

Communicate your needs and any boundaries you have to set for yourself and your loved one. You should let your loved ones know how precious your time is, and how you’re using it this holiday season.

Managing Caregiver Stress During the Holiday Season

Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout

Even if you work to make the holiday season as seamless as possible, it’s still likely you’ll feel overworked. It’s important you recognize the early signs of caregiver burnout so you catch it quickly and take care of yourself as necessary. Some symptoms include:

  • Regular negative thoughts
  • Feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list
  • Suddenly becoming short-tempered
  • Feelings of inadequacy or depression
  • Poor sleep and lack of care for personal needs

Remember: you can’t provide the best care if you’re burnt out. If you begin to notice signs of burnout, talk to your family or call a home care agency to learn more about respite care.

Helping your elderly loved one through the holiday season

For those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the holiday season can be a confusing time. Help your loved one settle into the holiday season and enjoy it with these tips.

  • Include them every step of the way. Decorations, present wrapping, and guests in your home won’t be as overwhelming if your loved one is involved in the process. Where possible, include them in your holiday preparations—which should hopefully be fun for them too!
  • Pull back on your holiday decorations. If you’re the type to cover every inch of your home in holiday décor, it might be time to pull back. Make things festive, but make sure they aren’t dangerous. This means limiting tripping hazards or the moving of furniture.
  • Don’t veer too far from their daily schedule. It’s easy for the ins and outs of one’s schedule to dissolve with so much happening during the holiday season. However, scheduling is crucial for those with dementia. Try to keep key factors—like wake time, meal-time, and bedtime—all at the same time.
  • Start new traditions. Determine what it is that is most important to your loved one during the holiday season, and make new memories based around it. This could involve baking together, looking through family photo albums, or making a video call to those who can’t be there.

Get help this holiday season from an at-home caregiver

If you’re struggling to get everything done this holiday season, call upon the aid of a respite caregiver. These dedicated and compassionate professionals can assist your loved one with any of the activities of daily living they need help with—from personal care to companionship care.

At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our staff is honored to help seniors live the happiest, most comfortable lives this holiday season. We also offer a program that allows family caregivers to be paid for the work they already do. To learn more about this program, or to hire a respite caregiver, call us at 773-274-9262. We’re ready to help.

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