Holidays Can be Tough on Caregivers

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 12/11/2015 1:30 PM by Interim HealthCare
In today's world families are far flung across the nation, living some distance from one another. They keep in touch by phone or email and may see one another only at the holidays. As caregiver to a loved one, you may have explained or written about your patient’s illness to out of town family, but the message may not have come through as it will during a holiday visit.

You and your patient may not be able to participate in holiday preparations or get-togethers as you once did. Sometimes the holidays are when family members and friends first recognize that an elder’s activities have been limited by illness or debility.

Many families find it difficult to communicate about declining health, and may be upset to find that Grandma isn't her usual self during their annual holiday visit. As a caregiver, it is not your job to manage others reactions to the current situation, but you may find yourself having to gently explain what is happening, and ask for help and understanding.

It may be appropriate to limit patient exposure to large gatherings. You may want to let people know ahead of time that Grandma will be attending for a short time only. If the traditional gathering is “always” at Grandma’s house, a change of venue may be needed in order to reduce stress on both patient and caregiver. Out of town guests may need to be assisted to find accommodations nearby.

Ask visitors to keep visits short and upbeat, and be alert to signs of fatigue. Don't be afraid to ask visitors to reschedule if your patient isn't feeling up to visiting. And of course anyone, adult or child with a cold or other infection should be asked to stay home. Keep holiday scented hand sanitizer by the door and ask everyone to use it!

Children need supervision and direction when they visit, particularly if the patient has had surgery, is unsteady, or uses an assistive device such as a walker to get around. With a little coaching and communication, family can be a great source of joy and healing during the holidays for both patient and caregiver.

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