Tips for Caregivers This Holiday Season

Health & Wellness
Mother and daughter - holiday tips for caregivers

Posted: December 21, 2022

For most families, the holidays are about spending quality time with loved ones. But the holidays can be challenging for people with a disability and those who care for them. With a few helpful holiday tips for caregivers, we hope this season can be less stressful and more enjoyable.

It’s important that you update family and friends about the person’s condition. This is especially important if changes in appearance or behaviors and increased memory loss have become more apparent. Be honest. The purpose is to maintain their dignity, avoid embarrassment, and create a calm and comfortable environment.  

Don’t Overwhelm

Recognize agitation, stress and discomfort. Signs include withdrawal and seeking isolation, repetition in behaviors and speech, pacing and outbursts. If your person is self-isolating, allow them that time. Avoid continued coaxing, as this may lead to agitation.

Here are some tips to avoid overwhelming your loved one this holiday season:

  • Consider having family and friends visit in small groups rather than one big gathering or consider scheduling it at a time that’s best for the person you are caring for, such as the time of day or evening when they’re most alert and at their best.
  • Be sure to serve foods that your person likes, will recognize and will be easy to eat.
  • Include level-appropriate activities that your person can participate in so they feel included.
  • When dealing with memory issues, ensure that people introduce themselves and state who they are in relation to that person. Better yet, wear nametags.
  • Avoid saying, “Remember…”
  • Be aware of the tone of your voice. Dementia doesn’t mean deaf. Speak slowly and clearly and allow the person time to respond.
  • Follow and engage in their conversation.
  • If the person is in a wheelchair, get down to their level. Do not talk down to them.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Choose music that is soothing.
  • Limit holiday decorations. Avoid clutter and possible tripping hazards.
  • Ensure proper lighting and room temperature.
  • When assisting with personal needs, whisper in their ear.
  • Above all, be patient.

Your Caregiver Self-Care Checklist

Prioritizing your own self-care is an incredibly important part of being a caregiver. When your physical, mental and emotional well-being are tended to, you are in a better position to be able to provide care for your loved one. Taking time to de-stress and reenergize is beneficial for everyone.

Here are a few ways you can take care of yourself and avoid burnout this holiday season:

  • Join a support group.
  • Don’t take anything personally.
  • Don’t get stuck in tradition. Make memories with new traditions.
  • Breathe deeply and allow family and friends to provide you with moments of respite. Step away, mingle and enjoy.
  • When others ask if or how they can help, don’t be shy. Tell them.
  • If guests ask what they can bring, suggest gifts that really will help, such as frozen prepared foods, an IOU for caregiving that offers you respite, an offer to run specific errands, etc.
  • Take photos and videos to record special and humorous moments.
  • Above all, love, laugh and enjoy. Cherish every moment.

Ongoing Caregiver Support

Caregivers wear many hats and must be skillful in numerous areas. Being responsible for the health and safety of another adult is no easy feat. Caregivers may be called upon to do things that they have never been responsible for, such as paying bills, tracking medications, or providing personal care, including bathing, toileting and oral hygiene.

Planning and executing activities for an adult is a full-time job. There is a delicate balance in structuring activities to meet the person where they are in the disease process. You don’t want to set them up for failure by giving them something that is beyond their ability, but you also don’t want to take away their dignity with childlike games. Dementia is a moving target, and the caregiver must be able to move, think and act quickly in their support of the person with dementia.

Caring for a person with dementia can be very stressful. Caregivers will need help at some point, but where can they turn for that support?

Cappella of Grand Junction hosts Memory Café, a wonderfully welcoming place for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia or brain disorders and their caregivers. In this safe and comfortable space, caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, enjoy good food, listen to music, play games and take a break from the normal routine. For more information on either of our community support programs, please contact Joni Karp at 970.822.7070.

Written by Joni Karp, Sales & Marketing Director at Cappella of Grand Junction

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