Self-care tips for caregivers during the holidays

Adult daughter cutting food for elderly mother with christmas background.

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Being a caregiver is a very challenging job in every way: mentally, emotionally and physically. During the holidays, it may become even more challenging. Add family to the mix, and it can become even trickier.

Often, the bulk of caregiving, particularly for an elderly parent, falls to one family member. This person may graciously accept the responsibility, but come the holidays, it can become a little too much. So, what to do? A good place to start would be to set up a meeting, in-person or via Zoom, with your siblings. Be sure to have a set of talking points and be clear on what your main objective is; do you want help for one day? One week? One month? And also provide a visual timeline that clearly shows all the time you have been caring for your parents. In a sense, you should approach it almost like you would a business meeting because that will help minimize charged emotions. And, if that meeting does not go well, consider inviting a mental health counselor qualified in family dynamics to participate in a follow-up meeting as a mediator.

Maybe that sounds extreme, but remember, caregiver burnout is a real thing. Below are some tips to help prevent this from happening:

TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS DURING THE HOLIDAYS

  1. Take care of your body: When you care for your body, you’re also caring for your mind since our mind-body connection is strongly intertwined. This could mean simple things like setting aside a half hour to do yoga (or better yet, an hour if you have time) or it could mean taking a daily walk outside and make your body smile.
  2. Start a new tradition: Sometimes our old traditions just don’t fit our current lives. Give yourself permission to create new traditions. For example, if you’re extra sleep deprived this holiday season, instead of hosting your annual Christmas party, ask everyone to meet out somewhere, maybe at a favorite restaurant for a casual get-together.
  3. Stay positive: Practice positive affirmations. You can create your own or Google ‘positive affirmations’- and a gazillion websites will pop up. Practicing these a few times a day, beginning in the morning, can make a small, but significant difference in feeling more upbeat.
  4. Practice self-care: When you practice self-care, you’re not only helping yourself but improving the quality of care for those who depend on you, so, make sure you take time for you. Now is a good time to splurge a little – on yourself. Get a massage or pedicure or whatever it is that feels like a treat to you.
  5. Connect with caregivers: Connecting with fellow caregivers is extremely important and therapeutic. They’ll be able to identify and empathize with any travails you’re having at work and emotions you carry over from work.
  6. Connect with local resources: One great resource is the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, an organization that operates numerous community-based services that focus on the well-being, safety and independence of Florida’s seniors. Information on these services, including the Adult Care Food Program, Community Care for the Elderly, the Senior Companion Program and more can be accessed via the Elder Helpline. You can reach them by calling (800-963-5337) or visit elderaffairs.org.
  7. Consider Private Care: It’s okay to ask others for help when you’re feeling wiped out. As a caregiver, it can be difficult to do, but remember the way you can perform your job optimally is by feeling your best. A great option is private care. You’ll want to be sure you hire a reputable company like the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). When you hire the VNA, you can rest easy knowing that when you can’t be there for your loved one, a professional VNA caregiver can be. VNA caregivers are licensed, insured and have undergone Level II background checks and drug testing.

Some of the VNA Private Care services that will help provide caregivers with respite include:

  • Transportation
  • Medication reminders
  • Bathing and personal care assistance
  • Meal preparation
  • Companion care

For more information on how VNA Private Care services can help you and your loved one, contact us today. And a big thank you to all our wonderful caregivers out there; we wish you a very happy holiday season!

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