There is so much happening in the world right now, that emotions seem a bit on edge, understandably. Couple that with your role as a family caregiver and the holidays impending (how did they get here so fast?!?)…..it can be a time where self-care is dropped by the way-side. And a time where it should be at the very top of your to-do list.
Holidays can create emotional stress not only in the ‘to-do’s’ but also in the decisions around your loved one. Perhaps this is the first holiday occasion that they are in a care facility, and you are unsure of whether to bring them home, celebrate with them at the facility, or try not to bring attention to it at all. None of these are easy decisions, as you attempt to navigate their feelings, what is best for them physically all while not neglecting your well being.
Talk to your loved one’s doctor about any possible risks mentally or physically. If the decision is made to bring them home say for dinner, overnight, make a list of all of the things you’ll need to have in place ahead of time; wheelchair, walker, particular foods, extra help….planning will ease the transition.
If you’ve decided to or they need to stay at the facility you need to prepare yourself. I will never forget celebrating Thanksgiving with my parents while Dad at a skilled nursing facility. He was so angry to have to be there, so disconnected, the strain on Mom was considerable and all I wanted to do as a daughter was ball up into tears. I was not prepared for it and the day left a scar that will always remain.
Finding a way to make peace with the holidays not being like they used to be is of utmost importance. Part of the process is becoming a light for others, but you need to start with yourself FIRST. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally that this is different than it ever was. Speak your truth to your loved one, “I know this is different but the important thing is that we are together. This is new territory, and the most important part is that I love you.”
You influence everyone that you come in contact with, and through patience and generosity, it is contagious. Don’t forget yourself, too.