The holidays can be both exciting and stressful, especially as aging family members hit new milestones and life changes, altering the dynamics of cherished traditions. As family dynamics shift with time, keeping the holidays light and festive requires ever more forethought and planning. Homewatch CareGivers offers these tips for bringing joy and love to you and yours this holiday season.
Skip the crowds. Stress and safety concerns can cause the hectic nature of holiday shopping to become an inconvenience — or down-right impossible. Instead of hitting the mall this year, light a cozy fire, brew up a hot beverage and help your elderly loved one purchase holiday gifts from a catalogue or online in the comfort and safety of their home. As you browse, take the time to reminisce about favorite gifts past. Check one gift off your shopping list by entering our 30th birthday contest. You could win a pair of Tiffany & Co. pearl earrings!
Take a personal inventory. It’s easy for family caregivers (you) to experience burnout in the process of tending to the needs of others. Don’t let the holiday season planning, shopping and stress get the best of you. Find respite care for your loved one during the season’s hustle and bustle so that you can de-stress. Once you’ve created some time for yourself, have tea with friends, read a good book, or spend time baking — remember that the greatest gift you can give to your loved one is your calm and centered presence and that everything else can wait!
Get creative. If family traditions have lost their luster, choose something that is inclusive and low-stress. Instead of seeing “The Nutcracker” at a local playhouse, buy a version of the musical on DVD, bake some holiday treats, and invite the family over for movie night! If you’re looking for an activity that your aging parents can participate in without the entire family, the senior center in your area may coordinate caroling, cooking or gift-wrapping events that will get your loved one out of the house and engaged in the community. (Not to mention it will give you, the family caregiver, some time for you!)
Support your local charity. When the snow is flying, stay inside and keep warm! Help your loved one go through their pantry, linens and clothing in search of items that may no longer be useful (or necessary). Donate to local shelters and charities (and save that novelty for the neighborhood gift swap).
Be adventurous with your Cooking. Family meals are the heart of most holiday traditions. Preparing a holiday feast for the entire family can become more of a challenge if your aging relatives have dietary restrictions. With a little pre-planning and online research you can modify unwanted ingredients in your favorite signature dishes or family recipes. Your loved one will feel honored to be included and the entire family will be amazed at your cooking genius!
Make it a New Year’s resolution. As a new year approaches, create resolutions that are far more meaningful than losing weight or getting organized. Resolve to spend quality time with your aging loved one, to bring the grandchildren for more frequent visits, or to look into home care — to relieve some of the caregiving responsibilities from yourself, and ensure the well-being of your aging family member.