Director, Senior Center Services, Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
Sheila Moore has been working with caregivers for over 25 years. She is a community educator, active support group leader and advocate for those who care for family members with memory loss or those who live with chronic health conditions.
Caregivers face daily stressors while caring for a family member with memory loss. Add on holiday expectations and increased holiday burden, and caregiver stress can easily escalate and become overwhelming, leading to what I call the “perfect storm” for caregivers – “Holidaze”.
“Holidaze”: Feelings of fatigue, anger, resentment, disconnect, sadness and opportunities lost.
Caregiver Stress Triggers to Watch Out For
Your own expectations of what the holiday must include What has been important to your family member in the past The arrival of out-of-town or less-involved family Keeping meaningful traditions Each of these triggers can tip the scale on stress levels and create a sense of unmanageability and overwhelm. What to do?
Making Space for Yourself
During the holidays, the paradox of the caregiving experience is never more true. We know that you spend much of your energy making sure the family member you care for is comfortable, well cared for and safe. On the other hand, if you are able to find comfort, feel at ease, find meaning and reduce your caregiver stress, this will naturally translate into a better experience for your family member. While caregivers generally put themselves last on the daily “to do” list, we invite you to make space for yourself and create a holiday experience that has meaning.
Making the holiday meaningful for you will require some effort in planning. The effort in mapping out what is important for you – for your own holiday experience – will benefit both you and the person you care for.
Tips to Get Through the Holidays
- Identify what gives the holidays meaning for you
- Get the help of family or friends
- Educate out of town family about changes in the person you care for
- Develop plans: Plan A, Plan B and Plan C
- Involve the person you care for in the holiday, but be clear to yourself (and others) about the goal or outcome
- Take time for yourself this holiday season. Make room for things that are important to you. It is okay to move yourself up on the “to do” list and find ways to make this time of year meaningful to you and in turn, meaningful to the one you care for.
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