As if being a family caregiver wasn’t stressful enough, the upcoming holiday season includes thinking about how to handle the dangers COVID-19 presents for your aging loved ones. You not only need to organize a holiday to-do list, but you must also think about what not to do with your senior that you typically do, or how to do things a bit differently.
Holiday To-Do List for Senior Caregivers
1. Prioritize Self-Care
To start, complete a self-assessment. Determine where you are emotionally, mentally, and physically each day. If you find that you are angry, frustrated, exhausted, confused, or experiencing any negative thoughts and feelings, you need to work through them before plunging ahead with your plans. Otherwise, the negativity will just keep piling up.
The first step is to acknowledge what you are feeling and prioritize your self-care. Take a walk, call a friend, let go of things you cannot control, and find a way to put your feelings in perspective.
If you do this, you will be refreshed, your energy will return, and your sense of purpose will be renewed.
2. Know That There is No Need for Perfection
There is no perfect holiday plan. The holidays are about a special time for the people you love to enjoy themselves and each other, and if your “joy” is only derived from addressing every possible detail and backup plan, your stress will also be felt by those around you.
Be aware of the law of diminishing returns which states that, at a certain point, adding more effort will not add to any significant gains. In fact, it can diminish what you are trying to do for others and yourself. The final destination of perfectionism is often a place where you don’t feel good about yourself. Release yourself from the quest for perfection and you and everyone around you will have a much better holiday season.
3. Simplify the Holidays
Holiday seasons don’t need to be elaborate, complex, or extravagant to be successful.
Determine early on if you are going to need help with your holiday to-do list. Can someone bring a food item? Pick up a gift? Take Mom to the doctor while you attend to holiday preparations?
Also, simplify the menu. If it’s just you and your aging loved ones, you don’t need three side dishes, four desserts, and an 18-pound turkey. Also, there are companies that will deliver Thanksgiving meals, including complete Thanksgiving dinners, to a person’s home.
4. Create New Traditions
COVID-19 has forced us to reconsider many aspects of our lives. As a caregiver, your top priority is the safety of your senior loved one. Therefore, a traditional family gathering may be out of the question. Other options exist, however.
Family members could visit online via a conferencing app, or drop food off at the senior’s doorstep and wave and talk to them through a closed window. If your family is large and geographically scattered, a Zoom meeting, where everyone can see and talk to each other virtually, may be something to continue during future holidays or on other special occasions.
5. Gift Giving
Gift giving can be modified with online shopping (some online stores will also gift wrap for you) and home delivery. By utilizing these services, you won’t have to spend hours at a mall, while wearing your mask and trying to stay 6 feet away from other shoppers.
Take Care of Yourself this Holiday Season
During the holidays, taking care of yourself can be easy to overlook. You may tell yourself that you’ll rest, eat healthy foods, exercise, and get back to managing your physical and emotional health once the holidays are over, but that is not a good plan.
As a family caregiver, your senior adult is relying on you. Your family needs you and are concerned for your welfare. Neglecting your own needs not only harms you but it harms those who love you. They need you happy and healthy during the holidays and beyond. You can do this, and celebrate a wonderful holiday season.
As you plan for this busy holiday season, don’t forget about making time for yourself. Bethesda can offer a helping hand. Whether you require short-term respite care for your senior loved one, or more ongoing support via our Care Management program, Bethesda is here to help. Contact us to learn more.