The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of year for seniors and their caregivers alike. A few simple holiday tips for caregivers can help to eliminate this stress.
According to Bethesda’s Geriatric Care Management team, planning ahead, keeping anticipation in check and taking advantage of the resources available to seniors and caregivers are the keys to keeping the holidays happy.
They also caution that it’s unlikely that things are going to go exactly as planned and that everyone is going to be happy all of the time. Typically, people are trying to pack everything into a short period of time, yet someone still has to make sure that Mom and Dad are taken care of properly.
Reasons why the holidays can be stressful
- Reminders of the past. Often seniors have lost people who are close to them, possibly including their spouse or siblings. It’s not unusual for them to feel depressed at a time when others are ready to celebrate.
- Changing times. Maybe Grandma’s holiday pies are a tradition in your family. But what if Grandma doesn’t feel up to making them this year because her arthritis causes her too much pain? Not only are the guests disappointed, but Grandma feels bad because she thinks she’s let everybody down.
- Power struggles. If relatives come from out of town and find that Mom and Dad are having more aging-related problems than they anticipated, it can lead to arguments regarding who is going to coordinate their care going forward.
- Too much to do. If any seniors in the family require daily assistance, the added responsibility of shopping, preparing for guests and meeting other holiday responsibilities can be enough to cause additional stress for caregivers.
Tips for avoiding holiday problems
The key to creating a holiday experience that is full of positivity and creating good memories is to head off problems before they get out of control.
Sometimes, problems will arise. Knowing how to avoid and resolve issues before they happen is important.
- Avoid arguments. Arguments don’t help situations, especially when you’re addressing the needs of a senior with dementia. The best thing to do is to take criticisms and complaints with a grain of salt.
- Don’t have goals that are too ambitious. Don’t try to solve every problem at one time. Stay away from flashpoints and focus on the moment. Instead of trying to make everything perfect, work on making things the best they can be right now.
- Involve Your Senior Loved Ones. Even if Grandma doesn’t feel up to making her traditional holiday pie, that doesn’t mean she can’t be involved. Ask her advice. Try to involve seniors in a way that fits their capacity to help.
- Plan down time. Realize you’re not going to make everybody happy all the time – and that it’s okay. Allow yourself time to take a much-needed break and things will go better.
Don’t forget: Bethesda is here to Help
If you’re not sure how to make these holiday tips for caregivers work for you, Bethesda has resources that can help families throughout the Saint Louis area, not only during the holidays, but through the rest of the year too. We offer a variety of services to give both caregivers and their loved ones a break when they need it.
- In-home Private Duty: Bethesda Senior Support Solutions can provide in-home private duty caregivers to care for your loved one on an as-needed basis to allow caregivers to run errands outside the home for a few hours, assist with activities of daily living such as dressing, going to the bathroom, or bathing, or just to be an extra set of hands during a busy time.
- Respite Care: Respite care also gives primary caregivers a break, but includes overnight care. Primary caregivers may enlist respite care if they want to take a vacation from their responsibilities for a week or so. Then they can resume responsibility feeling refreshed and energized.
- Care Managers and Counselors: Trust an expert to help you make the right decisions concerning your senior. Care managers can help you decide which services best fit your family’s needs. They can offer an objective point of view and help to prevent disputes between family members about what course of action is best.
Throughout all of the chaos, remember to take time for yourself! Sometimes caregivers are so concerned about providing for someone else, they don’t take care of their own needs and responsibilities, leading to caregiver stress.
Contact Bethesda for help with these holiday tips for caregivers if you find yourself struggling.