The holidays can cause large amounts of stress for people caring for elderly parents. In addition to caregiving duties, this time of year also adds shopping, holiday parties and family gatherings to your growing to-do list.
Each year around this time, the AgingCare Caregiver Forum sees an increase in stress-related posts on our discussion boards. One AgingCare member said, "I feel more stressed every year… It starts before Thanksgiving and lasts through the New Year. Holiday planning always falls on my shoulders. Last year, Mom was in the hospital, which added to the stress. I keep promising myself to get more involved in something other than caregiving and to recharge myself, but it's so hard to find the time and energy."
If this sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. Many caregivers struggle to get through the holiday season. Use some of the following tips to help you minimize stress and make time for yourself.
1. Take a Break
Reducing stress is vital to your health. Family caregivers have higher illness rates than non-caregiving peers. Respite care offers short-term care for dependent adults and provides you some relief – even more important during the holidays. Types of respite include adult day care, in-home help, and assistance from family and friends.
2. Ask for Help
Many caregivers avoid asking for help and try to do everything themselves. But once you ask for help, you might find it is easier than you expected. Many times, family members and friends are willing to help, but don't know how. Here are some tips for getting family to help out.
3. Make a "To-Do List"
Making daily lists helps you stay organized during this busy season.
Pare down the cookies, leave the bookcase full of Santa figures for another year – but keep the Christmas tree. You can "decorate lite." Let family and friends know that the holidays are being simplified this year.
5. Accept Imperfection
You might feel you're not doing enough or that someone else would do better, but no one is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver. Do your best, then accept and forgive yourself for imperfections.
These tips ensure you will have time to enjoy the holidays, while also taking care of yourself. This is vital for your health and well-being. And it can help you to be a better caregiver who is more rested, healthier—both physically and mentally—and less apt to feel resentful. It might even make caregiving a little easier.