How to Reduce Caregiver Stress during the Holidays

December 16, 2022

Many families only get together a couple of times for big holiday celebrations. These celebrations have so many moving parts, unexpected expenses, and unforeseen stress, especially for persons caring for older adults.
But even if you’re caring for an older adult, it’s still possible to have an enjoyable and less stressful holiday season. How the holiday turnout will depend on your approach, and we have created a list of helpful tips to help you manage unrealistic expectations, reduce guilt and stress, and get a well-deserved break.

1. Give yourself permission to do less
It’s easy to get caught up in fancy decorations or multi-course meals during the holidays. However, organizing these things in addition to caregiver duties can increase caregiver stress. 

It’s about feeling good and spending time with people you care about. Remind yourself that it’s OK that your house is light on décor or that you’ll enjoy a simple meal with a small group.

In fact, celebrating the holidays in more relaxed ways might be what’s best for you and whom you are caring for. Remember your caregiving responsibilities will continue during the holidays, so do what’s best for YOU. No matter what, don’t pressure yourself to fit the holiday stereotypes you see on TV.

2. Know that you’re not responsible for their mood
As much as you want the older person your care for to have a happy and special holiday, you can only do so much. Some people won’t recognize or understand what’s happening because of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, some stubbornly remain in a negative mood, and some won’t appreciate your efforts.

If they don’t enjoy the holiday cheer, it’s NOT because you didn’t try hard enough or that you failed, and could be well out of your control.

You’ve done your best to create a joyous holiday under difficult circumstances, and if they can’t or won’t get into a happy mood, it’s not your fault.

Focus on the things you can control, so don’t feel guilty or beat yourself up over things you can’t control.
3. Arrange caregiving help early
Whether you are a health professional working with clients or are a family caregiver - you need a holiday break too. To make sure you get some time off, make plans for holiday caregiving help as soon as possible.

If you use or work as a hired caregiver, talk about the holiday schedule so you can both plan ahead. Decide who is taking Christmas Day off, who will be present on Christmas Eve, and so on to make sure responsibilities stay intact. 
4. Make time for yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of extra tasks and hassles that the holidays bring, in addition to regular caregiving responsibilities. This can amp up the stress.

To counter that and prevent burnout, make it a priority to take a little time to sit quietly, relax, and recharge. Remind yourself that quiet alone time isn’t a waste of time. Taking brief time-outs can make you more effective and efficient because you won’t be so frazzled.
5. Know your priorities
There are dozens of things going on during the holidays, but it’s impossible to do everything without running yourself ragged. So, take a moment to consider – which are the most important to you.

Taking time to consider what gives you the most meaning and fulfillment helps you prioritize activities, events, and even people.
That helps you focus your time and energy so you won’t feel overwhelmed and drained.
Welcoming a True Care home health aide into your home or signing up for the Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Program (CDPAP) at True Care can ease the stress of the holiday season and caregiving overall. There are so many options, and we would love to explore what care program best suits your needs. Take a look at our True Care Services and fill out the Intake Form to start your conversation with us. We look forward to hearing from you!

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