The holiday season is a time of light-heartedness, gift giving and family gatherings. It’s also a time when many caregivers feel resentful and often times a little worn down.
While everyone is enjoying the hustle and bustle of the season, caregivers tend to be bogged down with extra obligations while caring for the growing needs of an aging parent.
Is your aging loved one’s declining health becoming too burdensome? Bear in mind that the holiday season also offers unique opportunities for better communication and support from family and friends.
Here are a few suggestions to help you manage your growing responsibilities in the festive season of joy and goodwill.
Share your Feelings – Communicate
Caregivers are often guilty of bottling their emotions; secretly holding on to the anger they feel towards unsupportive family members. Instead of concealing these negative emotions, seek resolution in a non-threatening way. Consider an honest family discussion about the realities of caregiving. This can be a great way to encourage other family members to help with providing care and assistance.
Some caregivers have found that writing brief notes that discuss a parent’s changing needs can help. For family members who don’t live nearby, reading about the details of their aging loved one’s declining health can help them visualize the reality of the caregiver’s situation. The result is often a better understanding of the efforts of caregiving, hopefully inviting more family participation.
Find Non-Traditional Ways to Enjoy the Holidays
Shopping for gifts and hosting dinners while caring for an aging parent can be a stressful process, no matter which way you look at it. Take the pressure off of yourself and rather than trying to doing everything “the same,” choose to enjoy the holidays in the ways that are most important to you, even if that means celebrating in a different way.
Don’t feel obligated to host family dinners every year. To honor tradition, suggest another family member take over this year. Unfortunately, determining where you are going to gather with your family for the holidays can be another battle to face, but if no one offers to host, try dining out!
Before you drive yourself crazy going from store to store to find the perfect gift for your family members, consider shopping online. If online shopping isn’t something that you’re interested in, try taking some of the guess work out of shopping by making selections in catalogs before heading out.
Reflect on Your Role of Caregiving
Your role as a caregiver is important….whether you chose the role of caregiver or not, chances are, you are quick to consider the needs of your loved one. As a caregiver, you plan, prepare and provide for those needs and take care of your own needs and those of your family as well. Your compassionate care may be a reflection of your faith, an appreciation for the role your parent’s played in your life or a testament to your personal growth. Acknowledge your significant role in caring for an aging parent and let it fill you with a sense of purpose and encourage your efforts to press on with joy and thankfulness.
The holiday season can be a great opportunity to garner more support from family and friends. Be honest with your family and share openly about the challenges of caring for an aging family member…and invite them to take on some responsibilities that will help to make life less stressful for both you and your loved one. Schedule a family meeting during your holiday get-togethers when everyone can take a look at their calendar and then set aside some time to talk about a care plan for the new year.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.