Take stock of how much energy you have and how much you can expend. The key is to be aware of what your body is telling you. It may mean that you have to attend fewer functions. It may mean that you can’t bring that special dish, which you’re famous for, to the pot luck. It may be a time to draw on resources you don’t normally use. For example visitors may be able to take your family member on a special outing.
Also, remember to arrange respite care early. It’s a busy time for everyone. Whether you’re asking a neighbour or a health care professional, putting in a timely request can ensure you get a reserved spot in their datebook.
The holiday season can be a good opportunity to communicate with family members and to gain support from them. Friends and relatives may not realize the impact that caregiving is having on your life.
Give yourself permission to discuss your feelings about being a caregiver. Many of us are hesitant to share our feelings for fear of causing worry or conflict. You may find that simply expressing your frustrations or difficulties may make your load lighter.
The season is a time that centers around family celebrations and traditions. Being unable to celebrate in the same way you always did can be a loss in itself. But it’s an opportunity to re-live those past celebrations and traditions with conversations and photographs. It may be a good opportunity gather the family for a home-movie night. While you may not be able to recreate past traditions, it’s a good time to create new ones or to pass on the responsibility to younger family members.
Don’t forget to consider your own needs and to make up your own holiday wish list: lunch with your child or grandchild, a gift certificate for a massage, a bestselling mystery novel—whatever will bring you enjoyment and renewal.
The December holidays may be one of life’s ways to brighten winter, to create opportunities to gather with friends and family and to enjoy good food. What’s important is to give yourself permission to simplify the season, to be aware of your limits and to care, not only for others, but also for yourself.
Josie Padro, North Shore Community Resources, www.nscr.bc.ca.
View the North Shore Community Resources Caregiver Support page or contact the Caregiver Support Program at 604-982-3320.