Is Caregiving Turning You Into the Grinch?
So, let’s be honest: Most of us feel pressure around the holidays. Pressure to spend money we may not need to spend, pressure to spend time with people we don’t normally spend time with, pressure to appear jubilant when we may be exhausted.
For caregivers, the burden can be even worse, as they may feel that their caregiving is going to be judged by family members who don’t truly understand what the situation is like on a day to day basis.
In addition, caregivers may feel resentful towards other family members who they feel have not helped out as much as they could have. And the thought of going to extra mile to provide all of the traditional holiday festivities may seem completely unrealistic and overwhelming.
Here are some suggestions that might pave the way for a less pressured holiday:
Tell the truth
We often feel the need to make things look better at this time of year than maybe they really are. If you’re the day to day caregiver, let out of town visitors see what it looks like on a day in, day out basis. They may not realize what’s involved in the caregiving that you are doing.
Ask for what you need
Stop dropping hints. This is an opportunity for you, as a caregiver, to ask for exactly what you need. Be specific: rather than saying “we could use a little more help around the house” specify what you mean – for example, “We can’t get the trash bins to the curb on trash day,” or “We can’t reach the light bulbs over the stairs to change them.” It may require some humility to admit that you need help, but it also might be a relief.
Scrap the live Christmas tree
…and the Christmas lights. Both are fire hazards anyway. If there are family members to whom those are important, let them know that it’s just not realistic or practical to do that now.
Ask for help taking down decorations
Before everyone leaves town, ask for help with the decorations. It may not be as festive as putting them up but there may not be enough time or energy once the holiday is over.
Set the House Rules
With regard to visiting their loved one – again, be specific. Let them know that they may need to stand on a certain side of the bed to be heard or that visitors should come in one at a time. Or perhaps they need to keep background noise to a minimum while trying to visit by turning down the TV or the Christmas music.
The holidays are a tough time of year for a variety of reasons. But caregiving is tough every day. Most people really do want to help but many have no idea what would actually be helpful. So, share your needs, accept some help, express your gratitude, and know that even though Christmas may not look like what it used to, you can still enjoy sharing this time with family. After all, Tis the season!
By Julie Coats, LBSW, JD, CCM
If you are caring for a loved one and are unsure of where to begin, a Cariloop Healthcare Coach can help sort our what is needed in a particular situation – especially in the case of adult children who live far away from their parents. Become a member or call 1-844-790-5667 to get started.
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