Holidays for the Caregiver by Shauna Foster

Are you exhausted from being up all night with your wandering parent or are you in a tizzy since  being up at dawn for Grandma to catch the school bus because she thinks she is 15 again. Do you have a young child in pain that longs to be held and a boat load of dirty laundry waiting to be done? Have you been neglecting yourself so that you can care for someone you love?
Our vision of a Hallmark Christmas is not always the reality of what we may be facing as a caregiver during the Holiday Season. How will all the gifts become beautifully wrapped, the table wonderfully set, and the feast of all feasts be prepared?
I hope the following tips will be helpful to you so that you and your loved one can both enjoy this special time of year.
Pick a tradition – Families usually have many traditions through the years but this year you might need to just pick 1 or 2 that you truly enjoy.
Smaller gatherings – Many people with dementia become overwhelmed with larger groups of people and a large amount of noise can confuse them even more.
You could try hosting finger foods and desserts Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, while having another group of family over on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day with a potluck type dinner.
Ask for help – This is a huge barrier to many caregivers that want to do it all but just don’t have the time and resources. Family and friends will be happy to help in many different ways. Perhaps sitting with your loved one while you shop for a couple of hours. Have someone come eat lunch with your loved one while you go into the other room to wrap presents. If the weather permits you might have your loved one go for a car ride while you rest or nap for an hour. Talk to your local nursing home about care for your loved one some morning, afternoon, or all day.
Inform family and friends – Let people that are coming to your home know how your mutually loved one is doing and how much they can tolerate.
Gift giving – Feel okay with telling family and friends that your loved one needs soft, easy to put on and take off clothing, slippers, or velcro shoes, soft blankets, bird feeders, and CD’s of their favorite music.
Make new memories – As we all age and life’s circumstances change our surroundings be open to making new memories. In the future you may hear, “do you remember when we went to Aunt Joy’s house to see Grandpa in 2014, it was the best time ever”!
Above all that you already do and try to do, please take care of yourself so you can continue to be the “sunshine” in your special loved one’s day.
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