5 Ways to Make the Holidays Merry


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.

4. Simplify
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.

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


We are doing stripped down and barley conscious here...between my ankle and my dogs health and grandpa and mom quitting her job and taking early retirement......This is not gonna be a celebration...maybe just grateful it isn't any worse than it already is...yet...Mom snapped at him for trying to get dressed in the dark, you know to save electricity and such and risking a fall that would just be one more thing on a pile of too much already...Christmas 10, really can't go by soon enough. Glad I got all my minimal shopping done last month...I hope every one has a Blessed and Wonderful Holiday Season, what ever it brings or takes away.PEACE.
There were 21 people here for the annual latke party. At long last the kids were old enough to make a lot less of a mess. In any case, I am fortunate that my sister's in-laws clean up after just on their own instinct. Wow. There was only a little left for me to do this year.

Spreading holiday prep throughout the year. Buy your xmas / holiday cards a day or two after this Christmas (they are 50+% off) and then put return address labels and address them over the course of the year. Hint: on stressful days over the coure of the year, it will pick up your spirits to take a moment away from caregiving. Start an update letter and save it, add a sentence or paragraph or two over the year AS you are going through the news (less to remember in December). Gifts: Make a list that way you can go to specific departments in stroes and not spend hours wandering aimlessly. As you shop for groceries every month, take a 1/2 hour side trip and pick up one gift at a time - this will also lift your spirits as will wrapping throughout the year. Cookies/Cakes: Bake them and freeze them in. With fresh ingredients they hold up surprisingly well in the freezer. Decorations: When you put them away this year, store them in boxes/bags and label them for each area of the house: living room shelf, banister etc. Will make unpacking and organizing easier and that way you can decorate one room per day, starting in November, next year... these tips are my holiday survival guide -- allows me to meet all my social plans of cards and gifts to others (and enjoy giving in the process), go to parties to unwind and make a terrific Christmas for my parents each year. Hope this helps -- it did for me and I am an only child and caregiver to two parents - one with dementia and a plethera of medical problems and one with full Alzheimer's. It really works. Happy Holidays from now on fellow caregivers.