‘Tis the season to be jolly. . .or not.
Most Caregivers would probably think about the holiday season as being more stressful than “jolly”.
This is the busiest time of the year. Hustle and bustle everywhere. Crowds of people in stores. More traffic. More stress. Less patience!
If you are new to caregiving you’re probably wondering how you are going to pull off handling the holidays with your family and taking care of your loved one at the same time.
Start now by enlisting help from local family members. They can help with meal preparations. Ask some of your closest friends to run errands for you. More than likely, they have errands to run too, and helping you out won’t be an inconvenience. Ask your children to help with household chores, taking care of pets and anything else you need to have done around the house. Kids, no matter their age, like to be included and feel helpful when times are stressful for the parents. Showing your kids you trust them to be responsible helps to instill a sense of self-confidence. They appreciate you and you appreciate them. It’s a win-win.
Don’t try to be the superhero by attempting to do everything by yourself. That serves no purpose except to make you more stressed out. How will you ever enjoy your time with the family in that frame of mind?
If your loved one lives with you, make sure to keep the family gathering down to a minimum if possible. Loud voices, chaos and people talking over one another is agitating to a person with dementia (if they are advanced dementia).
Holiday music is a favorite of most people, however, playing it loud can be upsetting to your loved one. Try a selection of more classic soft carols playing in the background. Everyone will still enjoy the music.
Be considerate of your loved one if they are joining you at your home, or if they live there, by paying attention if they are getting tired and need to lie down. Just because they are with everyone at the family gathering doesn’t mean they can adjust to your way of entertaining. People with dementia tire easily and can become agitated if they start to feel this way. The family might be trying their best to interact with your loved one so they don’t feel left out, but remind them that they need to speak slowly and in a calm voice so your loved one will be able to understand them and try to process what is being said to them. And please! Remember to show respect to your loved one while at the family party by not talking about their situation with other people in front of them. They still have ears, and even though you might think they don’t understand, they do know you’re talking about them. They are still a member of your family and should be respected.
If your loved one lives in a nursing home or assisted living, set apart a special time to be with them even if it’s only for an hour. There’s no rule specifying you have to stay all day. Just make the time to be with them, that’s what’s meaningful. If you can take the kids, grandchildren or even the family dog, that will brighten their day more than any present you could buy them. Take advantage of the moment by taking photos of everyone together. Make a special memory of that time together.
Caregivers, you are never alone. Lean on the One who can always help you.
An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. A.W. Tozer