For caregivers, the holidays can bring a host of challenges. In addition to the stresses brought by the holidays, caregivers also have the responsibility of ensuring the care for their loved one. Judy Waechter, Community Educator for Crossroads Hospice, sat down with Steve Kuker on the SeniorCareLive podcast, sponsored by Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation, to discuss key tips in navigating through these stressful times.
You may need to recalibrate the traditions.
Be honest about the change in your life
While the holidays are steeped in tradition, it is time to be honest about the change in your life as a caregiver, and the change in your loved one’s life. You or your loved one may have enjoyed more extravagant traditions, such as taking long trips to a relative’s house, or making large amounts of food; however, as shared by caregiving expert Judy Waechter, “you may need to recalibrate the traditions, as they may no longer be appropriate” It is important to be honest with yourself and your loved ones as you enjoy this holiday season together and to focus on what truly makes the holidays special.
Make it meaningful
Focus on what has made the holidays special for you, your family and your loved one. Judy Waechter urges that “what you focus on needs to be worth your energy and time.” In caregiving, and especially during the holidays, your energy, and the energy of your loved one, is finite. It is important to use this holiday season to look back on what has made the holidays special. Finding the special memories that you and your family cherish during the holidays makes this time special and allows for reflection with friends and family.
You set the tone for the day.
Maintain a self-care routine
As a caregiver, you will likely find yourself indoors most of the day and while caring for your loved one. While it may feel selfish to tend to your own needs during this time, ensuring that you are well-rested and maintaining a self-care routine allows you to give more quality care to your loved one. Judy reminds us that "those that get out and walk a few times per week are less likely to have illnesses” and that getting outside during the day helps reinvigorate your mind and boost morale. Pouring into yourself as a caregiver, though it may feel selfish, allows you to care more richly for your loved one.
Your attitude and energy set the emotional barometer of your caregiving environment. Judy Waechter reminds us that we set the tone for the day in our demeanor and positive attitude toward not only our loved ones for whom we care, but also for our family around us during the holiday season. “The sun will rise tomorrow” reminds Judy; though we may not accomplish everything we set out to do in our care for our loved ones as a caregiver, maintaining a positive attitude as a caregiver is beneficial to your loved one, your family, but most of all, yourself.