‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for YOU, who was stressed about preparing meals, wrapping gifts, and decorating your house, PLUS caring for your elderly loved one.
Holidays are a time when we revisit happy memories from our childhood: sitting around a fireplace with family, sharing traditional meals with familiar faces from the past, and experiencing the joy of youth all over again through children and grandchildren. Yet, holiday stress is common, especially for a family caregiver. One of the best resources available to you is Holiday Respite Care, freeing you up before or during the holidays so that you can be more productive and more rested during this important time of year.
Don't feel guilty about putting your loved one in the hands of a professional caregiver. Caregiver stress and fatigue are common to millions of family caregivers each year. Mayo Clinic has compiled a helpful list for Coping With Holiday Stress that you may find helpful. We have put together our own list of tips for reducing your stress so that you won’t need a ‘holiday after the holidays,' due to stress:
Five Steps Toward Holiday Caregiver Peace:
1. Take Advantage of Respite Care
A great way to reduce stress is to seek Holiday Respite Care (see details at end of this post) for your elderly loved one. Rather than wait until the holidays to try this amazing resource, test drive the service once or twice before the holidays. That way it won’t be a totally new experience during the holidays. Respite Care allows you to:
- Take Breaks Early and Often – Use respite care before and during the holidays to free you up and to reduce your stress.
- Get More Done – With free time during respite care, you may find that you can get more shopping, meal preparation or home decorating done without distractions.
- Stay Healthy – Using respite care before the holidays allows you to take advantage of the time to exercise or to get extra rest. You may find you have more energy and strength to cope with holiday stress.
2. Allow others to bless your life
There’s a saying in business, “Quality is everyone’s job.” This is true for holiday efforts as well.
- Ask for help – Given the holiday spirit, asking for help from Friends, Neighbors or Family may help them as much as you by providing them with an opportunity to give in a special way. Perhaps someone can stay with your elderly loved one while you shop or put up the Christmas tree.
- Meals can be a team effort – Remember, meal preparation is another time to share with family. Rather than worrying about making everything perfect for others to enjoy, enjoy BOTH the meal AND the meal preparation with your elderly loved one or other family members.
3. Simplify your plans
When food looks delicious, it is easy to overload your plate (your eyes may bigger than your stomach). The holidays may be the same. You look forward to it so much that you want everything all at once. Instead, simplify. You may find that less is more.
- Make a list, then cut back – Don’t fill in every hour, every meal, every quiet moment with more tasks or activities. Instead, allow some ‘white space’ for you to relax with your family. Instead of preparing some favorite dessert or snack ahead of time, make that a fun activity for the grandchildren.
4. Life isn’t like the movies (it’s even better)
Holiday movies tend to always end on a high note (White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation). A character is redeemed, a relationship is mended, or some other problem is resolved. In real life, this may not always happen at the end of the holidays. But…
- Enjoy the ride – Unlike in the movies, there is life AFTER the holidays – and you get to write the story. Learn how to enjoy the ride with your family year round, no matter how imperfect the holidays may be. (Watch Parenthood, with Steve Martin, whose character learns to relax and enjoy the ride.)
- Count your blessings – No matter whether the meals are abundant, the gifts are enjoyed, the accommodations are perfect, your family will tend to remember the people more than the things. This may be especially true for elderly family members.
5. Traditions change – create new ones
We all have fond holiday memories from childhood; but every great tradition also had a first moment. Allow new traditions to start ‘organically.’ Grandchildren may not enjoy Christmas caroling as much as you did, but a new family game or activity that everyone loves will quickly become a new tradition.
- Seek joy, and traditions will follow – A scavenger hunt using texting, a fitness challenge for the kids, cutting or loading firewood are all ‘hiding places’ for joy – and for new traditions.
- Find ONE specific activity for the elderly – Singing, story-telling or a fun gift-exchange can be fun and engaging for an elderly loved one, but also for children. This may be the one event that your elderly mother or father holds dear to them after the holidays. Other things may be more age-specific (movies, board games, baking, etc.). There is nothing wrong with getting a baby sitter for the young ones, or a Respite Care giver for the elderly for other activities, to free up the other adults to enjoy a movie or even a night out.
More About Holiday Respite Care
Hill Country Care Providers offers Holiday Respite Care, covering a number of important duties such as:
- Companion Care, including watching movies or favorite television shows together
- Personal Care such as bathing, dressing, grooming, incontinent care or dental care
- Meal preparation, assisting with eating
- Transfers in and out of bed, wheelchair or motor vehicles
- Transportation to physician appointments, dentists, shopping or errands
- Spiritual activities that encompass singing, walking outside and accompanying to church
If you are a family caregiver, not only can you get temporary relief through Holiday Respite Care, but you will likely find that you are recharged and refreshed after the holidays so that you can better enjoy the time with your loved one.
Learn More about Hill Country Care Providers and Holiday Respite Care.