When You’re the Caregiver, Not a Guest
The songs tell us this is “the most wonderful time of the year”. Holiday shopping, relatives visiting from afar, friends dropping by to exchange presents and share the latest news over eggnog or mulled wine…
The reality is, many people don’t enjoy the holidays. For seniors with health challenges — and for the caregiver, often a family member, who lives with Mom or Dad or Grandma or Auntie, rather than dropping by in late December to spread holiday cheer — the holidays can be extra challenging.
Help is at hand, and not just during the holiday season. The key is to know what resources are available — and for caregivers to reach out and request assistance.
The following information can help your reverse mortgage clients, prospects, family members and other seniors or caregivers in your sphere to feel more supported, especially during the holiday season:
- Turn “big E’s” into ease. Instead of expectation and emotional overwhelm, stay in the moment with loved ones. Holidays are notorious for bringing up old hurts, resentments, and regression to childhood behaviors, which only amplify stress. Both the senior who receives care and the caregiver can collaborate on a commitment to accept what is, and let go. It sounds simple, and is. And it works.
- Be authentic, not automatic. A corollary to the above is to switch autopilot to “off”. The holidays can be so frenetic that cruise control becomes the default setting, which is counterproductive to happiness and well-being. Think and plan ahead, then be present with what is happening right now.
- Relinquish the superhero cape. For someone new to caregiving, it may be tempting to assume you can (or should) be able to do it all. This guide provides an excellent overview of how to manage the caregiving role effectively so that both elder and caregiver receive the support they need.
- Seek tech assistance. From virtual pet companions to wristwatch sensors to cities that cater to tech-assisted retirement, there’s a wealth of digital assistance available to support a caregiver and provide respite. As you discover relevant resources in your area, make a list and keep it handy so you can get help quickly when you need it.
- Recognize the symptoms of caregiver burnout before you become desperate. This article describes how to prevent and deal with caregiver stress, including resources for respite care.
- Reach out and touch someone. The old telephone company slogan had it right: a simple hug can go a long way towards restoring mood, and even help the body heal. Many seniors are touch-deprived. Stroking someone’s hand as you talk with them, a comforting touch on the shoulder, or a full body hug (if appropriate), can help both elder and caregiver recharge. Watching funny movies together, singing, or spending time in nature (even if that’s just bringing the wheelchair onto the back porch for ten minutes) are some other excellent ways to dispel senior doldrums — and support the caregiver as well.
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