Caregiver Tips

If you are caring for another family member over the holidays, the happy memories of the past can contrast with the difficulties of the present. Often, there seems to be an underlying sadness that surrounds the season with feelings of loss, change, and separation as you try to focus on the joys of the season.


As a caregiver, you do not need to dread the arrival of the holidays. There are ways you can still celebrate the season by making adjustments to improve your chance of having a safe and happy holiday for both you and the care-receiver.

  • Begin by keeping or adapting family traditions that are important to you. Experiment with new things that will minimize your stress. Eliminate those that are no longer relevant.
  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Minimize your stress by resisting the impulse or sense of obligation to do it all "perfectly." You can't do it all and care for someone, too. Find time for doing some holiday things that you like to do, even if it means getting someone else to spend time with the care-receiver.
  • Include the care-receiver in safe, manageable activities as much as possible. It makes him feel like he is being useful. However, don't force him to participate if he resists.
  • Simplify your decorating. If necessary, keep the decorations in one room or area. Move furniture as little as possible and watch out for extension cords.
  • Some caregivers suggest that you and the care-receiver visit others so that you won't feel like you must entertain guests, but most say that it is easier to have others visit you. Try to schedule visits during the time of day when the care-receiver is at her best. Limit the number of visitors at one time and keep visits short. Be sure that friends and family members understand the situation and have realistic expectations.
  • Enjoy yourself, but watch for your own stress triggers. Share the care with other family members. Don't feel ashamed or guilty. Let others know how they can be helpful. They won't know your needs unless you tell them.

By planning ahead and making some changes, you can still have a joyful holiday season.

Source: Cammy Seguin, U of I Extension Educator, Family Life

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