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Care- Holiday Well-Being for Caregivers

Author: Lora Drummond

Medicare Transition Specialist

Posted: 12/08/2021

  46 of 52 Solution Series – Care- Holiday Well-Being For Caregivers

The holidays are fast upon us. The weeks leading up to and through New Year can bring up all kinds of emotions. From excitement and anticipation to stress and anxiety. Everyone is thinking about preparations and fulfillment. We often create goals toward making the season memorable for people close to us. Me included! One of my annual events was an all-day cookie bake. My mom and sister would join my daughter and me in baking dozens of cookies. Every year, we would switch homes to spend the better portion of 9 hours mixing, cutting, rolling, and tasting cookies to share, freeze, and enjoy. 

Caregiving & The Holidays

My mom is well into her 90’s, and my sister is now her live-in caregiver. She wants mom to continue living at home, so there are challenging times with balancing her own life and meeting mom’s needs and routines. Do you have some people who help with your aging parents too? The holidays add another layer to their role in managing personal seasonal expectations and anxiety. Mom is more forgetful these days, so basic routines take more time without the holidays.

This time of year is always stressful for my sister. She focuses less on capturing the magic of the holiday and more on just getting a tree up for my mom to enjoy. Her priorities have changed in an effort to manage her stress. 

Since my blogs are Medicare-focused, you might have a loved one on Medicare with a caregiver. Because caregivers put their needs second, their health often comes second also. So here are some ideas for helping them focus on their well-being during the busy holidays. Help them enjoy the holidays with more calm and less clatter.

Holiday Help

  • Communicate.  Ask how you can help during this usually busier time of year. Ask what they need, so they have time to focus on their immediate family and themselves too. 
  • Celebrate simply. Trim expectations and not necessarily the tree. Digging through bags of ornaments and assembling a tree can be time-consuming and stressful. It’s ok to modify decorations and still get festive. Resist the urge to compare past celebrations. Every year is an opportunity for something new.
  • Planning.  Make lists and check them twice. Remove the items you don’t really need to tackle, like festive wants. The days leading up to the holiday will fly by. Try just putting one task a day on a calendar to balance holiday needs with routines. Then, add those wants back in where there is room. 
  • Flexibility. With holiday meals, 9 times out of 10 who you can celebrate with is more important than what’s on your plate. If it’s safe to gather, potlucks add variety and manageability. Everyone contributes, and no traditional foods are missed.
  • Create downtime.  Me time, a warm bath, a TV movie, and a warm cup of tea are great ways to end a day. Offer to help with some tasks so your caregiver can focus on recharging and downtime.
  • Creatively pitch in.  Again, if it is safe in your particular situation, offer to lead a tour of neighborhood lights in your car or bring premade cookies and colorful frosting and sprinkles for group decorating. Gather for a holiday movie and cocoa one night, bring over an unexpected appetizer to change up a routine evening, or just offer to provide company while the caregiver shops.
  • Gifting.  Be together (virtually or live) – encourage stories by pulling out the photos – bake/cook a favorite dessert if you can gather – create a cozy gathering space with soft throw blankets, candles, or a lit fireplace – Make a memory, a priceless gift!

I am very grateful to my sister for her love, commitment, and career flexibility so that she could keep my mom at home. Covid created risk in our gathering for the past 18 months, so this year we are looking forward to catching up and finally giving my sister some much-needed respite. Hopefully, some of the ideas above will inspire you to creating opportunities for supporting the caregivers in your life. 

 

 

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Caregivers and Holiday Wellness

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Your Medicare Transition Partner
– Lora

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