Your loved one is so fortunate to have you during the holidays. Too many seniors/disabled individuals spend the holidays alone. Although this time of year may be especially enjoyable for the one you are careing for, it can be very stressful and overwhelming for you, the caregiver.
The holidays entail more traveling, cooking, cleaning, and planning ahead which can be a nightmare if all the work is on you. Setting boundaries and knowing your own limits will allow you to make this time of year more managable. In an article written for www.4therapy.com, the author gives some helpful tips on surviving the holidays.
If you are a family caregiver, consider the following suggestions and think about which ones you can put in place during the coming weeks to help ease your feelings of stress during the holidays: • Set manageable expectations and limits for yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do—as well as what you want to do and don’t want to do.
• Try not to set yourself up for disappointment by comparing this year’s holiday season with the nostalgia of past holidays. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way.
• Ask for and accept help! It’s so often the case that, while people want to be useful, they may not always know what to do. Let other family members and friends know what they can do to share in the responsibility of caregiving. Don’t forget to consider asking people who live at a distance, as well as neighbors and people from faith-based groups or clubs, to pitch in and help.
• Maintain or establish social interaction with friends and other family members. Isolation can further increase feelings of stress. Having the chance to have fun, laugh, and focus on something other than your at-home caregiving responsibilities can help you keep stress at bay and maintain emotional balance.
• Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely. There’s room for feelings such as sadness, grief and/or loneliness to be present along with other more joyful emotions. If you do feel down, avoid critical self-perceptions, and, instead, try to articulate the understanding you need from those around you. Consider seeking the help of a therapist to help you sort out your feelings and deal with your concerns and troubling issues.
• If the elderly person you are caring for has dementia, avoid overly stimulating environments since that can add to their anxiety and end up increasing your stress level.
• If including the elderly person in large family gatherings creates added work and stress for you, consider alternatives, such as suggesting family members plan to spend individual quality time visiting with their elderly relative. • Don’t abandon healthful eating and drinking habits. While it’s certainly okay to treat yourself during the holidays, avoid giving in to stress-driven urges for overeating or for overindulging in alcohol.
• Exercise regularly. Even if it means finding someone else to take over your caregiver duties, getting regularly-scheduled exercise—for example, walking, swimming, yoga, biking, or aerobics—can be of tremendous benefit to both your physical and emotional well-being.
• Seek emotional and moral support from other caregivers—there is great strength in knowing you are not alone. Many communities have support groups for family caregivers of elderly persons through local hospitals, churches and/or community centers.
• Use community resources such as meal or shopping services, home-care aides, adult day services, and/or volunteer help from faith-based organizations or civic groups.
• Try to find time for yourself to do something you especially enjoy such as reading, walking, listening to music, gardening and/or visiting with a friend.
• Find ways to ensure you get enough rest. Sleep deprivation can sap your energy, distort your thinking and lead directly to making your mind and your body feel stressed to the maximum.
• If you experience any signs of depression (for example, extreme sadness, trouble concentrating, withdrawal, or hopelessness), don’t delay in getting professional help for yourself. Depression is a serious, but very treatable condition. If left untreated, depression does not “just go away,” instead, the symptoms progressively worsen and can even become debilitating. You can click here for information about depression, including a more detailed list of commonly experienced symptoms and ways to receive help.
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