senior health

Caregiving During the Holidays: How to Deal With the Stress

family holiday mealThe holidays are meant to be a time of togetherness and celebration, but if you're in the midst of taking care of an aging or sick relative, you may just see them as another source of stress in your life. But it doesn't have to be that way. With the right mindset and support from others, you can enjoy the holiday season, even if it means making some minor adjustments.

In the past, family celebrations may have been an affair that took weeks and a lot of effort to prepare for. But what's truly important this time of year is being together, rather than your feast being worthy of a Martha Stewart magazine or all of your decorations having been made by hand.

Now may be a good time to adjust your expectations of what this year's holidays will be like. Think about what's reasonable for you to accomplish over the next couple of weeks, and don't plan for much more than that. In fact, you may find that a small, intimate gathering is more meaningful than festivities involving everyone you know, which tend to get overwhelming even under normal circumstances.

Take advantage of local restaurants, bakeries and catering services if you need to, because cooking can be a major hassle. If there is one dish that you are known to be a master at crafting, make that and purchase the rest.

However, if cooking is an enjoyable activity for you, then stick to this tradition. You can even make it an activity for you and your elder to participate in together. Give them jobs like mixing batter, decorating cookies or divvying up measurements. Your aging or ill loved one can also help trim the tree, make garland or wrap presents. You may find that this brings you closer together and takes the focus off of their sickness.

When preparing for parties or dinners, try to keep your mind in the present. Your aging parent or relative is still with you and here to enjoy at least one more holiday season. Be thankful for this and enjoy these moments so that they remain clear in your memory. Try to make this holiday season the best one yet, even if you don't have the time to arrange elaborate celebrations.