The holidays are known as the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, it can also be the most stressful one. From shopping, yuletide gatherings, meals with friends and family and more, it seems like there’s a never-ending list of things to do and errands to run! But for caregivers of seniors, the holiday season can be especially challenging. The pressure to spread holiday cheer – all while fulfilling your caregiver responsibilities – can be overwhelming and lead to a condition known as caregiver burnout.
According to an AARP Family Caregiver Survey, 7 in 10 family caregivers say it is emotionally stressful to care for loved ones during the holiday season. If you find yourself feeling burdened this year, the following coping strategies might be useful.
How to Reduce Caregiver Holiday Stress
It’s helpful to keep in mind that your well-being is a priority and is just as important as caring for your loved one. While preparing for the holidays can be a balancing act when you’re a senior caregiver, it is certainly possible for you to enjoy this special time of year with a little planning.
Try these four strategies to help you capture and keep the joy this holiday season:
- Adjust your expectations. Many caregivers wish to hold on to holiday traditions and nostalgia, but unfortunately, sometimes old traditions don’t fit today’s realities. Try to set realistic expectations for the holidays. If you can, simplify the celebration. For example, if you can’t decorate a tree this year, consider picking just a few items to display that are significant to you and your family. Instead of a full-course meal, host a potluck where everyone can contribute. Be creative with ways to make your holiday time easier to manage.
- Practice self-care. It’s easy to grow accustomed to putting yourself last. Some caregivers struggle with feelings of doubt and guilt for wanting to take a break. Be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can. Take time for yourself this season and read your favorite book, treat yourself to a massage, or listen to music that makes you smile.
- Ask for help. This one can be the most difficult for senior caregivers, who are used to doing everything on their own. Ask your family and friends to pitch in with holiday prep or momentarily relieve you from your caregiver duties when you need a break. If your friend is going grocery shopping, ask her to pick up the items you need. Speak with the staff at your church to see if there are any volunteers willing to give you respite time. Help is available if you seek it.
- Find others like you. Remember, there are plenty of caregivers out there who are dealing with the same challenges and can truly understand what you’re going through. Consider joining a local support group or an online community for additional resources. Sometimes, all you need is a little reassurance that you’re not alone in your caregiving journey.
Caregiver Support at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities
Our assisted living communities at ESLC can provide the caregiving assistance you’re looking for. Seniors who need a little help with daily living will find a vibrant, active environment with supportive services like medication management, housekeeping, personal care and more. Contact us at 585.546.8400 to learn more about how your loved one could benefit from moving to an assisted living community.