Valentin, LCSW: , November 16, 2011
The holidays are always tough. Whether you are hosting a family dinner or traveling to one, you may find yourself experiencing some feelings of anxiety or apprehension in preparation for the holiday gathering.
This is especially true, if you are a family caregiver. Besides trying to juggle the daily tasks that comes with caring
for an older adult, spouse or significant other, you now probably have to add hosting, cooking, traveling and/or catering to family and friends. In order to maximize your potential as a host or guest, here are a few tips to consider:
Recognize your limitations
Have you been asked to host the holiday dinner this year?
Does your family expect you to make the majority of food? Are you also expected to coordinate the gathering? Being a caregiver is often a full-time job that does not come with any breaks. For those relatives or friends who are not aware
of your 24/7 job status, it is important that you make them aware of what you can and cannot manage. If your family is relying on you to host, cook and/or entertain, it is up to you to advocate for yourself and put the brakes on their expectations.
Reach out for help
Many caregivers are either too proud to ask for assistance or feel it is their obligation to shoulder all the caregiving
responsibilities on their own. Asking a relative or friend to lend a hand during the holidays, or any other time of the year, can alleviate some of the stress associated with caregiving. If you do not have a relative or friend you feel you
can rely on, there are services available to family caregivers in your community; all it takes is you reaching
out and asking for help.
Allow yourself to feel….
Angry. Annoyed. Frustrated. Resentful - the list can be as long as you need. These feelings are normal and can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt. Being a caregiver is often a role that falls in our laps with little preparation and a whole lot of expectation. As we think of our future and proceed through the course of life, we envision ourselves establishing a career,
taking care of our children and retiring to a peaceful, relaxing place. Having to care for a parent with a memory impairment like Alzheimer's disease or for a spouse with a terminal illness is generally not included in that equation. The
truth is, however, life is unpredictable and in order to minimize our stress levels we have to accept that we are not superheros and must be open to receiving help. Part of that adjustment process is to allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling and obtain support from friends, relatives or licensed professionals. This is often the only way to get through the journey of