Holiday Season Anxiety: How to Break the Cycle
It’s that time of year again and our care managers are noticing increased stress in clients and their families. The expectations, the financial implications, and the logistics can be overwhelming to any family system. But to those with parents or loved ones aging with medical or cognitive issues, the challenges can sabotage even the most accomplished at holiday planning.
EAG’s Advice for Planning Holidays with Loved Ones with Dementia
Break down the two important goals: enjoying the holidays and addressing changes in your loved one’s situation. While interrelated, we recommend appreciating the value of timing.
When out-of-town relatives arrive, there is often dismay and a sense of urgency to “fix the problems.” They may correctly see disturbing changes, but there are often important factors to consider and better times to address the concerns.
To maximize the joy of a family holiday for both the parents and family, we suggest agreeing to address the care issues separately, preferably after the holiday. With more reflection and information, thoughtful planning will generate better outcomes for both the short and long run.
This important care planning is when many families value the experience and logistical support of the geriatric care manager. We know more than just “the ropes.” Our Houston care managers know the resources, the costs, and the plans that can help save money, time, and stress.
6 Tips to Enjoy the Holiday Season
Here are “tricks of the trade” from our geriatric care managers for a more meaningful and successful holiday.
Plan Ahead with a Flexible, Thoughtful Schedule
One of the most effective ways to reduce stress during the holidays is to plan ahead. This is especially crucial when you have a family member with dementia. Start by creating a detailed schedule that includes activities, meals, and rest periods. Stick to routines as much as possible to provide a sense of structure and predictability.
Create a Familiar Environment
If you’re celebrating the holidays at home, try to make the environment as familiar and uncomplicated as possible. Decorate the house gradually, so your loved one can adjust to the changes. Consider playing their favorite music or enjoying favorite activities like baking cookies or making gifts.
It’s common for holiday gatherings to be grand and elaborate, but for a family member with dementia, depression or not feeling well – simplicity is key. Instead of hosting a large, chaotic party, opt for smaller, more intimate gatherings. Focus on quality time with close family and friends. Help orchestrate communication and connections with your loved one.
Be Mindful of Food Choices
Diet can play a significant role in managing stress for individuals with dementia. Opt for easy-to-eat, familiar foods that are suitable for their condition. Avoid excessive sugar and caffeine, which can contribute to mood swings and increased confusion.
Self-Care for All
Remember to take care of yourself. Caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining, especially during the holidays. Make time for relaxation and don’t hesitate to seek support from other family members or professionals when needed.
Embrace the Holidays by Changing the Narrative
The same old traditions (and drama) don’t have to dominate the holidays. New paths to purposeful events and thoughtful care for aging parents will work wonders for everyone. Make a plan to “make a care plan” after the holidays.
If you find yourself overwhelmed and in need of experienced guidance, we can help. The Aging Life Care Managers at Elder Advisory Group are well-versed in the unique challenges that come with caring for individuals with dementia and/or medical challenges. They can provide valuable insight, resources, and support to help you and your loved one navigate the holiday season and the New Year with grace.