This month in our series on cognitive illnesses we’re focusing on caregiving tips for enjoying the Holidays.
Being the main caregiver for a loved one, regardless of what illness he/she may have, is one of the most stressful and physically & emotionally tasking jobs anyone can have! Combine that with all the stress, work, excitement and heightened emotions of a busy holiday season and you could have challenging circumstances. Below are some tips to help you and your loved enjoy a less stressful holiday season this year!
Holiday Tips for Caregivers
Be realistic – the holidays don’t have to be perfect! Adjust your expectations and trust your instincts on where to spend your energy and what traditions are really important to both of you. Remember that you can recognize, more than anyone, how much you and your loved one can handle.
Plan ahead – schedule time for shopping, cooking, cleaning and other activities. Enlist help from other family members, friends and neighbors. You are not in this alone!
Learn to say no – family, friends and coworkers will understand if you can’t participate in every event or social gathering. Pick and choose what you say yes to.
Entertaining – If you’re usually the one hosting a large meal, consider having someone else host or share the work. If you do choose to host, prepare the main course and have everyone bring a side dish and/or dessert. Let your guests help with cleaning up after.
Take a breather – make time for yourself, eat healthy and get enough rest. Take a little time to do something enjoyable whether it’s a movie, a massage, reading a book or taking a nap.
Support – be aware that the holidays may evoke memories of better times, not just for your loved one but also for you. Talking with a close friend, a counselor or a caregiver support group can help with all the emotions that may bubble up.
In addition to the tips above, to support the caregiver, here are a few things to consider when a loved one has a cognitive illness:
If your loved one is uncomfortable in larger gatherings, consider attending on your own. Invite or hire someone to keep your loved one company while you’re gone and provide special activities and/or treats to share. Remember, you’re only a phone call away.
When attending a gathering together, let your host/hostess know ahead about what is going on; whether it’s physical or cognitive limitations.
Plan ahead; try to anticipate potential needs for a successful outing. Don’t rush getting ready to go as that can increase anxiety.
In closing, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy this special time of year. Have a safe and happy holiday season!
The above column was through Project Independence, an adult day health services center with activities designed to promote well-being through social and health related services in a safe, supportive, cheerful environment. For more info, call (802) 476-3630 or visit 81 North Main St., Barre, VT.