Surviving the Holidays While Delivering Senior Care
Caregiver Stress: Surviving the Holidays While Delivering Senior Care
For a child, the holiday season is a long festival of joy and cheer. Then adulthood rolls around, and the responsibilities of organizing holiday events begin to manifest. As time goes on and your parent's independence begins to waver, you might find your holidays filled entirely with caregiving duties.
There's a lot for adult children to consider during the holidays: presents, family reunions, tending to their own children during school vacation, the end-of-year work rush and the festive celebrations. When full caregiver duties are layered over that, caregiver stress is likely to rear its head. Here's how to deal with it.
Tokens of Caregiver Stress
It isn't an official medical condition, but adult children of dependent parents know full well the reality of caregiver stress - especially during the holidays. The symptoms tend to escalate quite quickly if the caregiver has accepted overwhelming responsibility. They include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
- Trouble focusing
- Feelings of resentment and anger
- Constant exhaustion
- Unfamiliar or worsening health problems
These issues don't normally arise from the demands of caring for a senior alone; they're the result of a burnout caused by numerous responsibilities taken on during the holidays along with tending to the lives of the elderly. Caregiving is no longer a healthy option when it prevents you from taking action toward your own needs.
Simplify the Season
While it might be your natural instinct to dive into your long list of holiday duties, doing so without proper consideration might leave you frazzled by the time January rolls along. It's a basic point that needs to be made: despite what is expected of you this holiday season, remember that you're working with a limited amount of time.
Let your family know that your care duties will be taking up the brunt of your free time and that you won't have much energy to spare for event organization or hosting duties. This is an important measure for your own sanity and enjoyment this holiday season despite that it might mean disappointing some people.
On the plus side: if there are certain holiday events you'd rather avoid this year, your care home duties will serve as a great alibi!
Make Self-Care Your Priority
Of course, one of your main focuses this season will be the support you provide to your aged loved one. This is a noble and loving responsibility to take on, but keep in mind that you can only care for someone else if you've properly taken care of yourself.
Exercise and proper diet are great ways to start. Stretch your bones with yoga or tai chi in the morning or get your heart rate pumping with some jumping jacks or an energetic living room dance to holiday music. Aside from its physical benefits, exercise can go a long way in boosting a person's mood, which tends to be just what a holiday caregiver needs.
During this stressful period, it's also important to get the emotional support you need. Consider visiting an online message board for caregivers, as this will connect you with others in similar situations. If a little more support is needed, consider speaking to a professional counselor or therapist.
Spend Leisurely Time With Your Loved One
Those who provide long term care to their senior loved one often find themselves serving solely as caregiver and not as companion. The holidays certainly provide enough stress to blur both roles. That's why it's important to set aside some time this season to enjoy your friend or family member's company.
Take them window shopping or spend an afternoon hanging decorations. If the senior is of a brittle mental state, flipping through old photo albums is a great way to stimulate their long-term memory as they reminisce on times past.
Ask for Help (and Accept It)
Despite the situation clearly demanding assistance, some caregivers hold to their duty so firmly that they hesitate to accept help, let alone ask for it. The truth is, however, that neither your loved one nor your other family members will be properly cared for if the task you're taking on is impossible.
Let your situation be known to those close to you, and the loving will step forward to help. Or, if a professional, dedicated care service is what you need, Home Instead is also here to help alleviate some of your burden this holiday season.
For a free consultation in the comfort of your home.