Tips for the Holidays

Many of us look forward to the holiday season as a cheerful time to spend with our loved ones. However, this is also a time of increased stress due to the high demands and expectations. Caregivers in particular may be more vulnerable to experience the negative effects of the holidays as they try to maintain traditional holiday festivities in combination with the demands of caregiving.

Here we offer some holidays tips for caregivers.

Take into account the care recipient needs when planning holiday festivities.

Transportation. Is the care recipient able to travel? If so, what limitations need to be considered in advanced. For example: length of the trip, medication schedule, snacks and food, activities to keep the care recipient distracted, among others. Plan ahead! Allow time for breaks, be vigilant for wandering behavior, make sure care recipient has identification and contact information, and keep two copies of list of all medications, dosages, and instructions. For more information go to the Expert Forum on traveling on our website at alzonline.phhp.ufl.edu

Environment. Changes in the environment may cause or increase confusion, disorientation, fear, etc, and thus affect the care recipient’s behaviors. Try to maintain the care recipient’s environment as familiar as possible. Keep holiday decorations simple and avoid having cords laying around the floor or changing furniture around. In addition, keep in mind that some care recipients may find the new decorations curious and exciting and may displace them. Allow time for adjustment to unfamiliar setting.

Routine & schedule. Avoid changing the care recipient’s routine schedule as much as possible as these changes may disrupt behaviors. This includes meal timers, medications schedule, routine activities, etc.

Get the care recipient involved! As much as possible, try to have the care recipient be involved in the holiday festivities. This may include: asking them for their opinion and preferences, engaging them in simple holiday preparation activities, listening to music, counting or categorizing adornments, etc. Remember that by keeping the care recipient occupied will allow you to do other things.

Keep it simple! Do whatever you can to simplify the holiday festivities. These include: keeping the number of guests manageable, have guests bring a dish, use paper plates and cups, and keeping it short.

Ask for help! Ask your families and loved ones to either help you plan and prepare the festivities or to provide care for your loved one to allow you to get things done. If someone asks you what you want as a present, consider asking for practical things that ease your role as a caregiver such as frozen foods, respite, etc.

Take time for yourself! Do not forget to care for yourself first. Remember to keep your sense of humor.

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College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida