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Ways to Simplify this Holiday Season for Family Caregivers

A diverse group of seniors toast with wine glasses amid a holiday celebration.

While the holidays might be the most wonderful time of year, they can quickly become stressful and overwhelming for family caregivers. Artis Senior Living understands the important role family caregivers play in providing a high-quality life for their loved ones.

That’s why our experts put together these 8 tips you can use to lighten your load and ease the extra stress you may feel as a family caregiver during the holiday season.

1. Simplify your holiday traditions

Instead of squeezing in as many holiday activities as possible, keep it simple by choosing meaningful traditions or creating new ones. Instead of hosting a large party, invite a few close friends and family over to make handmade cards and drink hot chocolate.
Rather than spending the entire season cooking large holiday meals, focus on perfecting a couple of family recipes for a potluck dinner or just host a dessert party. Instead of attending your usual, crowded religious service, attend a different service time with fewer people. By being intentional and simplifying the holidays, you can stress less and enjoy more time with the ones you love.

2. Communicate with your friends and family

If this is your first season keeping it simple, let your friends and family know you won’t have the same energy level as past holidays. Communicate clearly that caring for your mom or dad keeps you very busy, and that you only have limited energy for holiday events and activities.

Helping your family members understand how much is on your plate keeps their holiday expectations realistic and might even inspire them to lend a helping hand.

3. Plan ahead for holiday events

If your mom or dad gets overwhelmed or tires easily, plan for plenty of breaks or limit the amount of activities they’re involved in. Having a room away from the hustle and bustle of large family gatherings can give both you and your loved one an area to decompress.

Make sure any parties, restaurants and other festivities can accommodate walking aids or wheelchairs, and pack a supply bag with items like your loved one’s medications, snacks, water and anything else they need to feel comfortable.

4. Include your loved one

Sometimes, the best moments are the smallest ones. You don’t need to plan exciting activities for your loved one to enjoy the holidays. Many older adults are happy for quality time with their family members. Meaningful activities like looking through photos of past holidays, helping grandkids decorate the tree or watching their favorite holiday movies are all wonderful ways to make your parents feel included.

Virtual holiday parties are perfect for long-distance relatives to see and speak to your loved one. Platforms like Skype, Zoom and FaceTime allow family members of all ages to be included simultaneously, and it gives your mom or dad the chance to interact with the youngest members of your family who may not be able to speak.

5. Take time for yourself

The holidays can be tough for family caregivers, but it can be especially stressful for those also caring for young children. Just as one holiday ends, another one begins and before you know it, it’s been days or weeks since you’ve taken time for yourself.

It’s important to take care of your own mental well-being and physical health. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and do your best to eat nutritious food between decadent holiday treats. If you don’t have time to exercise, consider parking further away from stores and walking at a fast pace to reach the doors. Try to find at least one night a week for activities like going to the movie theater, mediating or reading the latest bestseller.

6. Share your wishlist

While others may want physical gifts for the holidays, many family caregivers just want a break. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for the gift of time off. Respite care for your mom or dad could come from professional care services at a senior living community or from siblings taking on caregiving duties for a day.

You can also ask for help with home repairs. If you have family members who aren’t comfortable providing personal care for your mom or dad, but still want to help during the holidays, ask them to perform tasks like changing light bulbs, mowing the lawn, raking leaves or simply going grocery shopping. For a fun activity, ask your parents to create thank you cards for everyone who helped make the holiday season happy.

7. Rethink gift-giving

The holidays are magical, but they’re also expensive. You can cut costs by scaling back the number of gifts you give this year. Many families draw names and exchange a present with just one person or just focus on buying gifts for small children and teenagers.

You can still exchange presents with adults by taking a more efficient approach. A regifting exchange is a fantastic way to re-home gifts of seasons’ past that you haven’t had the heart to donate, and recipe exchanges are a great way to share how you celebrate the holidays with others.

8. Make time for moments of gratitude

Gratitude can go a long way during the holidays. Actively look for moments to be thankful for and take time to notice the simple joys of being a family caregiver. When you look back on holiday memories with your mom or dad, you won’t think about who received what gift or how many people attended a party. You’ll remember the time you spent together.

Discussing positive holiday memories is a wonderful way to include those with memory impairment. All you need to do is share your favorite holiday moments with your loved one, and let them join in naturally. It’s an easy way to spread feelings of love and gratitude, and might even inspire a new holiday tradition.

Artis Senior Living Supports Family Caregivers

As you care for your aging parents, you may seek more information on how to navigate your role as family caregiver. We offer support for family caregivers at each of our 27 Memory Care and Assisted Living communities across the United States. To learn more about how your mom and dad can benefit from The Artis Way or to attend a community event near you, contact our team online or call us at 484-392-5573. We’re here to help!

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