The holidays can be an exciting time of year filled with hot chocolate, gift exchanges and cheerful surprises. As a caregiver, it’s possible that the holidays may also begin to shift the dynamic of your regular caregiving routines.
Before we dive into a few tips to help you have a successful December season, remember to be patient with yourself, and understand that not everything can be prepared for ahead of time. Take your work day by day, and focus on creating a positive, memorable experience for those you care for—and yourself!
1. Simplify Your Approach
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the high-energy bustle of the holidays. Within your resident’s memory care community, you might be trying to manage gift exchanges, movie nights, old traditions and your regular care responsibilities.
Instead of trying to do it all, we recommend pairing back both your schedule and approach. The quality of your care doesn’t need to come at the cost of having a packed schedule. It’s also possible that an excess of holiday activities can cause over-stimulation and act as a trigger for unplanned behaviors. Instead, create a simple, tailored plan for the holidays that is manageable for you to execute.
2. Foster Healthy Connections
This time of year is all about sharing meaningful conversations and memories with others. There are multiple opportunities for you, those you care for and their friends and family to do so:
- For You: reach out to other caregiver groups (both digital or IRL) to build your network of experts and support. These people can become a great source of backup to rely on when you have questions or unexpected challenges arrive.
- For Those You Care For: activities with other residents of the memory care community can be a great way to help build long-term relationships. Find ways to participate in group events to build these connections over time.
- For Their Family: when the holidays arrive, so do family members and friends! Help identify meaningful ways those with dementia or Alzheimer’s can create new memories with those they love. Initiatives can be anything from setting up a small crafting hour to ordering takeout from a favorite restaurant for a quick holiday dinner at home.
3. Create New Holiday Traditions
Don’t worry too much about the past, and focus on creating new, exciting memories with those you care for. Your approach should be catered specifically to their individual needs, understanding that some of the “traditional” activities may not be a perfect fit for your holiday plan.
If you (or Santa) is planning to deliver a few gifts, consider purchasing crafting supplies, a record player, flowers, adaptive clothing, crossword puzzles or other sensory gifts–all perfect gift options for an individual living in a memory care facility.
4. Understand and Establish Personal Boundaries
Stress is a common experience for many throughout the holidays, and as a caregiver, you may be susceptible to anxiety from both your personal and professional life. Invest in self-care as one of your main priorities, taking breaks as you need them and anticipating potential triggers that may make your stress worse. Communicate your boundaries with employers or support systems to make sure you have the resources in place to address your own needs and continue care if you need to take a break.
5. Focus on the Individual
Your role is immensely valuable and as a caregiver, your first priority is to meet the needs of those you help. Don’t worry about meeting the preconceived standards of the holiday season, when the person you care for may require something different. Trust your instincts and prepare ahead of time to truly enjoy this time of year!