As you get together with your family for the holiday season, take the time to celebrate each other, reflect on the past year, and prepare to usher in a new one. Take advantage of the family gathering to check in on each other’s health and well-being and, just as importantly, discuss the needs of loved ones who may need a family caregiver.
Start the Conversation
From recognizing that a loved one needs help, to determining which family members or friends will provide that help, initiating ‘the talk’ can be difficult. Take advantage of the holidays to discuss caregiving needs, by bringing up a relevant article, referencing an online resource such as AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center, or responding to a comment from family members about their health and well-being that could to spark the conversation.
Build a Team
Are your everyday responsibilities constantly causing you too much stress? Being a caregiver is a lot of work and you don’t have to do it on your own. Have a team of individuals who are committed to working together to make sure that your loved one is taken care of.
Make a Plan
Agree on a plan with your ‘team,’ which can be made up of family members, friends, neighbors, and even hired help. Assign tasks or responsibilities in order to make the caregiving experience run smoothly. Children and young adults can do chores around the house, while siblings can help with rides to doctors’ visits. Have a set plan so everyone knows their role and can lighten the load on any one caregiver.
Don’t Fear Failure
Whether you are a first-time caregiver or you’ve been caregiving for your loved one for years, it is natural to worry that you may be failing your loved one. Give yourself some credit! The fact that you are caregiving is a sign of your devotion and commitment to your loved one. Remind yourself that there is no set way to be a caregiver; you must create a system that works best for you and your loved one, as well as others who may lend a hand in this process.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is self-full. You need to fill up your energy reserves to be a better caregiver. If you overwork yourself you won’t be able to give your best care to your loved one. Take the opportunity to get extra rest on a day you are feeling tired. Read a good book, watch a movie, or take a walk outside. It is important to maintain a healthy and balanced life in order to be the best caregiver possible.