The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. But it can also be full of stress — multiple events, family visits, work obligations, and the list goes on. So how to manage it all? First of all, recognize that you are one person and can only be in one place at a time. Try to prioritize when and where you really need to be. In between all of the functions, take care of yourself – stop to breathe, listen to some great music, put your feet up, whatever brings you some peace and relaxation.
In addition, so many of the Baby Boomers have some type of care giving obligation to their aging loved ones, whether they are providing the full-time care giving or very involved with the day to day events of their family member who may still be living in their own home.
Consider some of these options — if your loved one has a diagnosis of dementia and they live with you, respite care in a memory care facility for several days may be helpful to both of you. This will allow you more freedom to plan or attend holiday festivities, while not worrying about having to get home to be the caregiver. Your family member will be safe and receive the care that you have been providing, plus be involved in new and different activities that can add further enrichment to their day.
Once the holidays are over, this could be an ongoing option to help alleviate caregiver stress. Think about it, if you are unable to continue as a caregiver, who then will take care of your loved one? Instead of staying at a memory care community, there may be an option for daytime respite. This is where your loved one will attend a care setting for the day, and then come home after the day is done. There may be formal adult day stay facilities in the community, but some memory care facilities may offer this as well.
At times, someone with dementia may not do well with a change in their environment i.e. staying temporarily in a memory care community, so you may need to bring in care to the home. Often the caregivers are certified nursing assistants, but maybe not — it depends on the specific agency’s hiring practice and business model. There is often a four-hour minimum for engagement of services, but sometimes that is not enough.
Another option is to hire an individual caregiver rather than going through an agency … but consider this, you may be considered the employer, so what happens about paying taxes, or if the person gets hurt on the job? If they are unable to show up for their designated shift – who will cover for them? Have you done a background check? There are many things to think about when using a “private” caregiver.
At the end of the day, care givers need care themselves in order to do the best job that they can. Burnout is not a good thing, and everyone needs a back-up plan. So, what’s your plan if you need a break? What’s your plan when it’s time to transition your loved one to a higher level of care? You certainly don’t want to have to make an urgent decision in the midst of a crisis especially during the holidays, it’s just too stressful. So, put on your thinking cap and ponder your choices.
Remember, it is important for your wellbeing to make sure you take some time for yourself, and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends, while making new memories to carry you through the new year.
Wishing you and your family health, happiness and laughter along your care giving journey!