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Navigating the holidays as a caregiver

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Caregiving can be stressful, and these stresses can be exacerbated around the holidays as you are faced with added responsibilities and obligations.

Whether this is your first holiday season as a caregiver or you have been providing care for years, you can do several things to make the holidays easier on you, the person you’re caring for and your extended family and friends by following the recommendations below.

Plan ahead.  This includes shopping for gifts and food for the holiday meal(s) well in advance of the holiday. Doing so can minimize the chances you will feel rushed or stressed as the holiday approaches.  In addition, it may help you spread out your holiday spending over a couple of months instead of just one.

Prepare your guests.  This may be the first time your guests will see their loved one since you became their caregiver, and you don’t want your family members or the person you’re caring for to be frustrated or embarrassed by their health situation.  Remind your guests of any physical and mental limitations your loved one may have.  Celebrate the holidays where the person you are caring for resides. This can keep their stress levels lower as they don’t have to worry about traveling or being in an unfamiliar environment.

Ask for help. Have someone run errands for you, such as mailing Christmas cards or picking up items from the grocery store, or have them stay with your loved one so you can do those tasks. Most people are happy to help if you ask.

Take time for yourself. Take a break from caregiving and holiday planning to do something that you really want to do.  Simple things such as taking a winter walk or enjoying coffee and a conversation with a friend can help to improve your spirits.

Source: Amy Hosier, UK extension specialist in Family Life Age in Place

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.