Yuletide Tips for Senior Caregivers to Ease Seasonal Stress
Often, the responsibility of caring for a senior involves navigating a precarious balancing act. From work and family life to the many activities associated with senior caregiving, there’s no shortage of priorities fighting for your attention. Then, here come the holidays—a time traditionally thought to bring joy and peace, but which usually makes the to-do list of a senior caregiver that much longer and more complex.
This time can certainly make for some of the most stressful and frustrating moments of your life, and even that of your aging loved one. Even so, you only want what’s best for them, and you also deserve to experience the excitement and merriment of the season. With those goals in mind, here are some priceless tips that can help you ease the stress that comes with caring for a senior through the holidays.
Accept the Precious Gift of Support
Maybe you’re not used to tapping into your network for help, but especially during the holiday season, people tend to unleash their spirit of giving. Yes, we’re all busy this time of year. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for what you need in the way of support, whatever that looks like as a senior caregiver. Allow family, friends, and members of your community to give the gift of time and assistance.
Maybe trimming the house with holiday lights feels like an impossible feat for you in between all the responsibilities right now, but perhaps a handy neighbor could do the job in no time at all. Maybe your church or spiritual organization has a meal prep program that you could utilize. Or what if a few different family members could put together a schedule for transporting your aging loved one to and from medical appointments and other events? By requesting and accepting others’ help, in whatever form it may come, you’ll find the holidays looking a great deal brighter and a whole lot less stressful for both you and the senior in your care.
Plan Ahead, Then Learn to Adapt
Of course, outlining your list of priorities and responsibilities will be an immense help. Plenty of planning and preparation goes a long way when you’re juggling senior caregiving with everyday life and the added stress of the holidays. So create your to-do lists and gift lists, mark up your calendar with routine activities and seasonal festivities, and put a good amount of thought into how you expect to manage the next few weeks. More importantly, however, is the ability to adapt.
Not everything will go according to plan, and that’s OK. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your aging loved one is to accept what is—with grace, patience, and understanding. It’s not always the easiest feat, but it’s the most worthwhile one because it gives you and your loved one the opportunity to make the best of this time of year.
Realize that you may not be able to do ALL the traditions or in the manner to which you’re accustomed. By accepting that reality and learning to go with the flow, you can get the utmost enjoyment out of each merry moment the holidays bring. Set more realistic expectations, get others in your circle on the same page, and do what you can to make acceptance and adaptation integral aspects of your holiday approach.
Prevent Caregiver Burnout with Self-Care
The truth is caregivers are called upon to do so much, continually giving of themselves in any number of ways. Often sandwiched between the needs of their senior parents and those of their children who haven’t yet left the nest, they can easily neglect their own needs—especially during such a busy time of year. And while you may want to do everything possible to make the holidays just “perfect” for everyone, caregiver burnout is a REAL risk with highly detrimental outcomes in the way of physical, mental, and emotional health.
During the holidays more than ever, it’s essential to take time for yourself, recharging your batteries and getting what you need to feel happy and whole. Whatever you need to do to make self-care the priority throughout the season, do it. Maybe this means going back to the first tip, and asking for support from others so you can make time for yourself. In the long run, this is the very thing that will enable you to embrace the holidays in such a way that you can care for both your aging loved one and your family with greater energy, enthusiasm, and cheer.
Review Your Options for Professional Assistance
Let’s face it: The average person, regardless of their aging loved one’s needs, is NOT a professional caregiver. As you step into this role and take on all that comes with it, you’re bound to require a break at some point this season. And rest assured, it’s perfectly normal to need a “vacation” from caregiving, so don’t feel guilty about wanting to find options for alleviating some of this highly consuming stress. Following are some beneficial solutions in the way of professional support:
- Home Care: Caring for an aging loved one at home but need to leave for work, school, or other obligations? In-home services range from medical and personal care to household assistance and companionship.
- Adult Day Care: For a senior with the physical capacity to leave their home, consider an adult daycare community. These are designed to provide supervision, nutrition, socialization, rehabilitation, and transportation services on an as-needed basis.
- Respite Care: You might enroll your aging loved one in a short stay at an assisted living community. Aside from facilitating a much-needed break over the holidays, respite care can introduce your loved one to the experience of assisted living, should this type of long-term care solution be in their future.
- Assisted Living: If it’s become apparent that your loved one can no longer live at home safely and comfortably, set them up to receive proper attention to their medical and personal needs. An assisted living community just might be the environment they need right now, surrounded by people who can effectively meet their health, everyday living, and socialization needs.
- Rehab: Is your loved one recovering from an injury, surgery or prolonged illness, or do they have care needs that require around-the-clock supervision? Rehabilitation centers offer intensive medical intervention, including monitored nutrition, medication administration, physical therapy, and personal care.
The bottom line is that there are a number of ways you can get professional care and support for your loved one, whether temporarily during the holiday season or on a longer-term basis. Leverage these options to help ease seasonal stress and procure the best care for the senior in your life.
To find out how United Methodist Homes provides a wealth of offerings and opportunities to support the health and wellbeing of our residents, contact us today or schedule a complimentary visit now. For additional tips on senior health and lifestyle issues, check out our blog.
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!
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.