The holiday season is hectic for everyone. If you are the caregiver for a loved one with a life-limiting illness, juggling the emotional issues and the physical demands of caregiving may feel overwhelming. So what can you do?
Here are five simple things you can do to help balance the rush of the holidays with your role as a caregiver:
- Accept your limitations. Many of us aren’t always willing to accept that we have limits. Especially when someone we love needs so much from us. But the facts speak for themselves. Caregivers who try to do it all end up with a health crisis of their own. According to a Gallup survey, caregivers are 63% more likely to have high blood pressure than their non-caregiving peers and 61% more likely to suffer from back pain.
- Acknowledge your priorities. In past holidays you may have been the one to host a fabulous Christmas day dinner or a New Year’s Eve celebration. This year that just might not be possible. Even on a smaller scale. To help you set priorities this holiday season, think about what is most important to you right now and make a list. When you find yourself struggling to get everything on your “To Do” list accomplished or trying to figure out how to buy the perfect gift for each of your loved ones, pull out the list. Remind yourself what is important this year.
- Ask for help. Quite often caregivers feel that caring for a loved one at the end of their life means not asking for or accepting help. When an offer of help is extended, caregivers often decline. Part of your role of caregiver is knowing that you have to accept help to be able to provide the best care for your loved one. For example, if a friend or family member offers to set up a community meal calendar for you during this time, let them do it. Halcyon Hospice offers an online tool called Care Flash that allows you to quickly and securely create your own personal care community. Caregivers can indicate on an iHELP calendar when they need help and then others can volunteer when they are available.
- Know your resources. If your loved one is a client of a hospice program, the resources available to you are plentiful. Every hospice has a volunteer program that can help by providing someone to quietly read to your loved one or to sit with them while you run errands. Psychosocial staff can also help you find ways to cope with the emotional issues you may be struggling with as well.
- Schedule time for exercise. While it might seem difficult to manage when you are already feeling overwhelmed, scheduling time most days of the week for exercise is important. It can be as simple as a few quick trips around the block or a short workout DVD. Exercise is a great stress buster and will also help you keep your immune system in good shape.
Are you caring for a loved one with a life-limiting illness? How are you juggling the holidays with your role as caregiver?