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Tips on Reducing Caregiver Stress at the Holidays

December 2, 2020

Family caregivers who care for an elderly relative at home often face caregiver stress. The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone. So it stands to reason that holiday stress is especially a cause for concern among elderly caregivers. However, caregivers can take steps to manage or alleviate their stress to make the holidays a more joyous occasion.

Caregiver Support: Recognize the Signs of Stress

The first, and most important tip for reducing caregiver stress at the holidays is to recognize that you are experiencing stress. Nearly 60% of caregivers report the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high. Here are some of the signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feelings of frustration or anger, alternating with feelings of helplessness
  • Sleeping too much, or not enough, and not feeling rested when you wake up
  • Gaining or losing a significant amount of weight
  •  Headaches or body aches that are not easily explained by another condition or cause

While mild stress can be productive, too much stress can affect your mental health, leading to depression, obesity, substance abuse, and a higher risk of chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure. So beyond simply having a more enjoyable holiday, there are significant mental and physical health reasons to manage stress wherever possible.

Senior Care at the Holidays: Manage Expectations

We’d all love to have a Norman Rockwell painting for our holiday experience. And especially when caring for an elderly family member or friend, that idyllic celebration may not be realistic. If family tradition says you host the big Christmas Eve dinner, consider moving it somewhere else. After all, the most important part of the holiday celebration is spending time together as a family, not where that time is spent.

Of course, sometimes the person you’re caring for has significant mobility issues, or you don’t feel comfortable taking them somewhere else. In that case, consider making the holiday meal a potluck to relieve the stress of meal preparation. Alternatively, you could start a new tradition of ordering take-out (and do you really think the grandkids are going to complain about pizza on Christmas Eve?). If ordering from a restaurant, be sure to plan ahead to see what options are open on holidays.

Caregivers: Ask for Help

The most important thing a caregiver for an elderly person can do to alleviate stress is to ask for help. Too often, we think we’re being a bother when we ask for help, or that it shows weakness, or that nobody will help anyway. But the reality is, the resources exist, and you might be surprised at how willing those around you are to help.

But beyond being hesitant to ask for help, many people don’t know what kind of help to ask for. Something as simple as a neighbor visiting with the person you are caring for while you take a break and go to a movie, or go to your annual holiday gift exchange with your bridge club, or run some errands can be a huge stress reliever for a caregiver. Or it could be asking someone who is already going to the store to pick up something you forgot for the holiday meal. In some cases, however, support from a friend or neighbor might not be enough and that’s where in-home care services can help.

Finding Care for an Elderly Relative

A home care agency can provide many types caregiver services, often at little or no cost to you. The types of home care services vary, but they may include things like personal care, such as showering and dressing; light housekeeping to help keep a clean environment; and medication reminders and management, to prevent dangerous errors. Certain requirements need to be met before in-home care can begin, so contact a home care agency as soon as you’re considering services to find out what you need to do to get started.

Become a Paid Caregiver

Sometimes, the stress of caring for an elderly relative is financial. Taking time off from work to take care of an elderly relative can be expensive, and can have negative effects on both your caregiving and your job. If the elderly person you’re providing care for is your parent, grandparent or other non-spouse family member, you may be able to become a paid caregiver.

In many states, a family member can actually become a paid caregiver for their elderly relatives at home. Doing so can relieve some of the financial burden of caring for an elderly relative, while still maintaining a high level of in-home care. Qualifications and documentation requirements vary, so contact a home care agency to find out how to begin the process.

Caring for the Elderly at Home with Home Care Powered by AUAF

This holiday season is likely to be more stressful than ever before, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crash. Whether it’s getting paid to be a caregiver for your elderly relative or having a home care aide come to your home, Home Care Powered by AUAF has a solution that will meet you and your loved one’s needs. Call us at 773-274-9262 or Contact Us to learn more.

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