The holiday season can be full of stress – multiple events, family visits, work obligations, and the list goes on. So how to manage it all? First of all, recognize that you are one person and can only be in one place at a time, so try to prioritize when and where you really need to be. In between all of the functions, take care of yourself – stop to breathe, listen to some great music, put your feet up, whatever brings you some peace and relaxation, time to refresh.
So many of the Baby Boomers have some type of caregiving obligation to their aging loved ones, whether they are providing the full time care giving or very involved with the day to day events of their family member who may still be living in their own home. Consider some of these options – if your loved one has a diagnosis of dementia and they live with you, respite care in a memory care facility for several days may be helpful to both of you. This will allow you more freedom to plan or attend holiday festivities, while not worrying about having to get home to be the caregiver. Your family member will be able to be safe and receive the care that you have been providing, plus be involved in new and different activities that can add further enrichment to their day. Once the holidays are over, this could be an ongoing option to help alleviate caregiver stress which can be overwhelming. Think about it, if you are unable to continue as a caregiver, who then will take over? Instead of staying at a memory care community, there may be an option for daytime respite. This is where you loved one will attend a care setting for the day, and then come home after the day is done. There may be formal adult day stay facilities in your community, but some memory care facilities may offer this as well.
At times, someone with dementia may not do well with a change in their environment i.e. staying temporarily in a memory care community, so you may need to bring in care to the home. Often the caregivers are certified nursing assistants, but maybe not – it depends on the specific agency’s hiring practice and business model. There is often a four hour minimum for engagement of services, but sometimes that is enough. Each person has to decide for themselves. Should you decide to hire an individual vs. going through an agency, consider this – you may be considered the employer, so what happens about paying taxes, or if the person gets hurt on the job. If they are unable to show up for their designated shift – who then will cover for them. Have you done a background check? Many, many things to consider when using a “private” caregiver.
At the end of the day, caregivers need care given (to themselves), in order to do the best job that they can. Burnout is not a good thing, and everyone needs a backup plan. So what’s your plan if you need a break, or it’s time to transition your loved one to a higher level of care. You certainly don’t want to have to make an urgent decision in the midst of a crisis, it’s just too stressful. So put on your thinking cap, make sure to take some time for yourself, and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends, while making some new memories to carry you through the new year.
Wishing you health, happiness, and laughter along with your caregiving journey!