Deep inside each one of us is the memory of how the holidays used to be and the desire to celebrate.
But when you’re a caregiver, celebrating may feel counter-intuitive. Don’t let yearning for the past bring you down. Make up your mind that you are going to make new memories, enjoy yourself and bring joy to your loved ones.
Even those with special needs can still participate in family gatherings and holiday festivities but you have to stay close and guide them through each function… which can be difficult! Try to simplify your party plans so that they don’t demand too much of you or your family.
Keep your sense of humor!
A friend of mine, whose husband has Alzheimer’s, wrapped presents for all of her children and grandchildren and lovingly placed them under their tree. Feeling a great sense of accomplishment, she set off to run an errand. Upon returning, she discovered shredded wrapping paper, bows and ribbons everywhere. She followed the trail of tinsel and glitter only to find that her husband had unwrapped every single present! He sat with wide eyes and a big smile and joyfully exclaimed, “Look at all the wonderful things somebody gave me!”
- Stay home and have a ‘helper’ there to assist you in decorating or baking or whatever you love to do – this is a great way to involve family… even grandchildren.
- Plan a tour of holiday lights with your husband/wife/kids/parents. Ask a friend to drive you around the neighborhood to see all of the houses and decorations. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and listen to some Christmas music.
- Ask someone to take over your caregiving duties for the evening so that you can go shopping with your friends. I made the mistake of trying to include my husband in everything that I did and was exhausted by the extra stress it brought, and he was often overwhelmed and stressed as well. I should have asked for more help.
Even though your loved one may not be able to fully participate in all of your holiday plans, you can still find joy in the season if you look for it.
My husband has Frontotemporal dementia. We have no children together and our friends have their own health problems. No one available to ask for help. Little $ to hire help and although we are Christians, do not attend a local church. So no help there. Are there volunteers to help people in our situation? That is my wish – for a non-profit to provide some type of free day-care or helping hand services.