6 Tips For Caregivers In Holiday OverloadPosted on December 10, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Caregiver Education, Caregiving, Home Care Non-Medical
Giving thanks for giving care
Imagine over $306 billion dollars’ worth of work going unpaid. That’s the estimated value of “free” services being provided to disabled loved ones every year by family members. Statistics show that two out of every five adults now are family caregivers, well over one third of all adult Americans, women as well as men ranging in age from their teens to their eighties.
The work is seriously challenging: handling medications and specialized medical equipment, communicating with doctors … performing hygiene responsibilities such as toileting, brushing teeth, bathing … navigating complex financial bureaucracies, researching available resources, supervising home health aides … providing ongoing emotional support to other family members struggling to comprehend their new and unexpected roles. In fact, all of it is ongoing.
In 1994 the National Family Caregivers Association began promoting the week around the Thanksgiving Holiday to acknowledge the dedication of family caregivers. Signed as a proclamation by President Clinton, the week of recognition expanded to a month. President Obama recently stated that “each day, courageous individuals step forward to help care for family members in need, their quiet acts of selflessness and sacrifice telling a story of love and devotion. Across our country, parents and children, siblings and spouses, friends and neighbors heroically give of themselves to support those in their lives affected by illness, injury, or disability. During National Family Caregivers Month, we salute the people who play difficult and exhausting roles, and we recommit to lifting up these Americans as they care for their loved ones while protecting their dignity and individuality.”
What about the upcoming holidays, a season that should be fun but often becomes a cause of dread for caregivers that are already overloaded? More resources are available than in the past. The library and internet offer many suggestions to regain some of the warm feelings of “the good old days,” but here are a few tips:
- Encourage sharing good memories about past holidays but avoid expectations of reliving those times.
- Tell yourself that you are in charge of your own to-do list and that it’s your responsibility to keep it simple!
- Ask for help with specific tasks and share your wish list. It’s okay to be honest with others about your energy level.
- Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into old arguments; arguing is often a habit, and habits can be changed with practice.
- Seek positive people and influences: optimistic friends, outdoor sunshine, upbeat music, funny old videos, whatever works.
- Remember that it’s normal and predictable to feel sad over things that remind us of what we’ve lost, but creating new memories together makes everyone feel special.
As President Obama commented, “Not only this month, but every month, let us work alongside our Nation’s caregivers and make certain they are able to provide the best possible care for their loved ones for as long as necessary.”
Randi Simon-Serey is a rehab nurse and freelance writer.