For those who are full-time dementia caregivers, the holiday season can be less than joyous. In fact, it can often be a season of frustration, stress, and anger. You may feel resentful that other family members aren’t doing as much as you to aid in care for an aging loved one; you may also feel like your duties force you to miss out on key holiday activities. You may also simply feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done during the hectic holiday season.
This season can provide a good opportunity for you to communicate, honestly and openly, with your friends and loved ones; if you open up to them about the challenges you face, you may receive some surprise offers of help. Specifically, you might write a brief note, describing your loved one’s condition, and enclosing it in holiday cards—assuming you feel comfortable sharing these intimate details.
Timing is always an important consideration. You may want to address with family members that you feel they are not pulling their own weight—and getting this off your chest can certainly help you feel better. Just make sure you do it at the right time. Commit to this either right before the holidays start, or waiting until after to say your peace.
Another tip: Be honest with family members about your energy level, your time constraints, and what they might expect from you. Don’t hesitate to say no when you need to; if you simply don’t think you can host this year’s Christmas lunch without feeling overwhelmed, then respectfully ask someone else to do it instead.
You might also consider sharing a wish list with your family and friends—around-the-home projects that need to be done, respite care, or even care for you (a day at the spa, for example). This can be much more meaningful than a list of physical gifts and presents!
Above all, do what you need to do to take care of yourself—and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
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