TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Holiday preparations can be overwhelming for caregivers of family members. Many caregivers wish to hold on to holiday traditions, but their old traditions don't always fit with new realities.
One caregiver related that she used to love baking and having her house full of family and friends during the holidays. But the combined stress of trying to keep her husband's care schedule and preparing a holiday get-together was too much.
Experienced caregivers offer the following suggestions to help you and your family keep the holiday without the hassle.
- Invite guests to the home of the care receiver so that he or she will be comfortable and not have to be taken out.
- Suggest a potluck meal or ask guests to take responsibility for preparing a meal. Make clean-up easy by using festive paper plates and cups.
- Keep the number of guests manageable. Noise and hectic activitiy can be difficult for a person who is frail or confused.
- Talk to family and friends before they arrive. If the care receiver is confused, has trouble eating or has any behaviors that guests might not understand, explain the circumstances to them and tell them how to approach the situation.
- Take the hassle out of gift giving. Consider giving a gift of love such as an offer to reserve conversation time with a friend or a promise to attend a grandchild's school play. Caregivers who wish to purchase gifts should consider giving one gift per family, mail-ordering purchases or asking a neighbor or friend to help with shopping.
- If guests ask what they can bring, suggest gifts that really will help -- frozen prepared foods, an IOU for caregiving that offers you respite time, a trip to the beauty or barber shop for your care receiver, or an offer to run specific errands.
One caregiver told me that she thought for years that nobody could do it except her. But when she learned to ask for help, she found that holiday joy doesn't depend on doing everything the same way it's always been done.
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