Here are some caregiving tips on navigating the holidays (and beyond)
November is National Caregivers Month
We at CaringBridge know that when you’re stepping up to help a friend or loved one on a health journey, the holidays can become an extra-stressful time. In addition to your already-jammed to-do list, being a caregiver during the holidays demands a good chunk of extra time – as well as taking more of a financial and emotional toll.
So some of our CaringBridge staffers and I brainstormed to come up with some resources for you: insights, ideas and caregiver advice designed to help you navigate the holidays and “keep your merry up” this year.
1. Stay connected. Let friends and family know what you’re doing. Embrace their positivity. Be open to their offers of assistance to help ease your holiday stress. Having a strong, supportive network is as important for you as it is to the person for whom you’re caring.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your supporters want to get involved, but sometimes, they just don’t know how to help. That’s why they’ll actually welcome your specific requests. Suggestions: help you shop, decorate, address greeting cards, make cookies or meals, shovel the walk at home, read emails and holiday cards to your friend or loved one, visit them when you can’t…is that enough to start with?
3. Start a SupportPlanner on the CaringBridge site of your friend or loved one. It just takes five minutes to create this online calendar that allows you to coordinate care and organize helpful tasks. There’s nothing wrong with delegating work, and with SupportPlanner you can set a community of support in motion on tasks like meal planning, child- and pet care during appointments, transportation, tackling paperwork, household chores and more.
4. Keep surfing. Online resources and caregiving tips only begin with CaringBridge.org. You’ll find excellent advice and insights on information-rich sites like Today’s Caregiver, Medicare and many more.
5. Join a support group for caregivers. This is optional, but potentially powerful. Attend a session to see if you like the group’s dynamics, and see how you feel before and after the meeting. To find more information and groups in your area, check out Daily Strength and Today’s Caregiver.
6. Get inspired. Visit our Personal Stories page to read stories of love, hope and connection from caregivers, CaringBridge volunteers, and those who are ill and recovering. You can also read our other blog posts with caregiver tips.
7. Step back and appreciate yourself. Even though your automatic response to the question “How are you doing?” is “I’m good,” you know it’s not always true. Caregiving isn’t easy. It takes extra time, money and emotional capital to help an aging parent, disabled friend or someone who’s recovering from illness or surgery. So if you can’t give yourself a pat on the back, please accept a big one from us.
What you do is priceless, and you’re just giving it away, asking nothing in return, not even gas money. For that, our friend, you rock. We celebrate you this month and always, and we hope the suggestions and online resources in this article help you keep all the joyous holiday spirit you deserve.