Whether you’re a homecare worker, a senior caregiver, or a family caregiver, there is no denying that the holidays can be stressful. From making accommodations due to your aging loved one’s mobility or diets to handling family conflicts, it is a time that brings both joy and difficulties. Caregivers may feel resentful towards other family members who they feel have not offered enough assistance. Already feeling overwhelmed with caregiving tasks, stressed-out caregivers can view traditional holiday preparations as more of a drain of precious energy than a joy. However, the holidays can also bring about an opportunity to share with family your needs or the needs of your loved one.
‘Tis the Season for Communication
While it is understandable to have reservations about sharing a loved one’s impairments, sharing the truth about the caregiving situation provides others with the opportunity to help. You may also want to tell those around you that you are very busy caring for a family member, and that you only have a limited amount of energy for work and holiday preparation. During the holidays, caregivers often must adjust their traditional role or experience. Let others know that this may mean that another family member may need to step in to host more intensive events. This can also mean that you may need to choose which events to attend based on which would be the easiest and least exhausting for yourself as well as the person you care for.
A caregiver may find it helpful to include a brief note along with your typical holiday greeting explaining the person’s illness, as it can be a non-threatening way to inform distant or uninvolved relatives about the realities of caring for your loved one. If the tone of the letter is not accusatory or guilt-inducing, family members can be more forthcoming with assistance. At the very least, they will have a better understanding of what the caregiver is doing.
To Vent or Not to Vent?
When caregivers feel that their family members are not carrying their full load in caregiving responsibilities, it is normal to feel disappointed, frustrated and resentful. If you wish to enjoy the holidays, you need to decide how to share your disappointment. Before the holidays, consider clearing the air or perhaps resolving to put feelings on hold, and to bring up the issue after the season passes.
A Little Thank You Goes A Long Way
Thank family or friends who spent time with your loved one after the holidays, emphasizing the positive influence their visit or brief time spent with your loved one had on them. As a result, they may be more inclined to visit again or be more supportive of your efforts. This will reinforce positive feelings from their visit and lessen any discomfort they experienced.
Managing your stress during the holidays will help you avoid burnout, become a more effective caregiver, and allow you to better enjoy the season. If this stress stems from shouldering too much of the caregiving load, it can help to bring in a neutral third party to facilitate a family meeting. It’s beneficial for all involved to discuss the “what ifs” of aging such as “What’s our plan when Mom’s dementia progresses?” or “Is it financially feasible to hire home health to come in several days a week to help out?” Although providing care to your loved ones can be an exhausting and stressful endeavor, caregiving CAN be a positive experience IF an Aging Plan is in place. Care Right offers many specialty services for those who are facing the challenges of caring for an aging loved one and strives to support all family members involved. If you’d like to learn more, contact us at (800) 741-0302 or visit our website at carerightinc.com.