November is National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM). There is no better time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays. Approximately 1 in 5 Americans are family caregivers including children, spouses, partners, and friends among others. As we head into the holiday season, family caregivers may take on non-caregiving responsibilities and duties in addition to their other commitments, which can add stress and worry. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers 10 Tips for caregivers during the holidays to deal with stress, enjoy the little moments, and practice gratitude. Here’s a sample:
• Focus on What is Most Meaningful – It’s OK for the holidays not to be “perfect” nor what we imagine a “successful holiday” should be. Focus on the meaning and joy and what feels necessary to produce a holiday feeling and create good memories
• Simplify Your Holiday Activities – It’s not an endurance contest to have all the decorations up, attend social or religious gatherings or mail out greeting cards. Focus on a few decorations/items that are the most significant, look into virtual get togethers or religious services, send e-cards by email, etc. Adjust location celebrations or holiday travel to accommodate yourself and your loved one’s care
• Start New Traditions – Focus on starting or doing something new in lieu of previous traditions that may no longer be possible. Watch holiday lights/tree lighting on TV, video chat with friends/family, start a holiday movie night or watch old home movies with your loved one.
• Adjust Holiday Meals – Keep it simple! For those cooking, simplify the menu by reducing the amount of side dishes and desserts. Purchase all or part of your meals at a local grocery store or restaurant – either fully cooked or ready to be cooked at home. If you are having guests, try a potluck style meal.
• Ask For Help! – It’s OK to ask for help; especially during the holiday season. Help with little things around the house or just have a moment to take care of personal matters.
Learn more about family caregiving and caregiver resources through the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) and the Caregiver Action Network (CAN). You might also like our previous article Taking Care of the Caregivers, featuring research and resources from the NIDILRR grantee community and elsewhere to support caregivers.
Check out the over 400 documents available in REHABDATA on family caregiving, caregivers, and caregiving.