How Senior Caregivers Can Manage Stress During the Holidays and COVID-19

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team member in elf costume wearing face mask and two residents

In most years, many families gather to celebrate the season and upcoming new year. While joyous, even past holidays could be stressful. In the midst of a pandemic, this holiday season may prove to be even more stressful if you happen to be the caregiver of an older loved one. If that’s the case, it is more important than ever that – in addition to keeping them safe and comfortable – you focus on caring for yourself. That care starts by eliminating whatever stress you can. We have a few suggestions to help you.

Family Caregiver Self-Care Tips for the Holidays and the Pandemic

  1. Identify what is causing you the most stress.

Family caregivers struggle with a variety of stressors year-round, and now there’s the holidays and a pandemic. Once you pinpoint the most difficult issues, it may be easier to find solutions.

  • Do you doubt your caregiving skills or worry that you might miss something important?
  • Are you worried that you, your family or even a home health aide may inadvertently spread the coronavirus to your loved one?
  • Are you concerned that you aren’t meeting the emotional needs of your loved one?
  • Are you worried that you are so busy caregiving that you are neglecting your own family?
  1. Be mindful of the expectations you set for the holidays.

Caregivers often set high expectations for themselves but are reluctant to ask for or accept help. Caregivers commonly believe that no one can care for a loved one like they do, and they refuse offers of support. During a holiday season in the shadow of a pandemic, a caregiver is even more likely to experience overload or burnout.

This year, give yourself permission to accept help, and scale back on trying to maintain labor-intensive holiday traditions. As concerns about the coronavirus linger, limiting outings helps reduce the risk of exposure for you, your family and your senior loved one.

Take advantage of online shopping and home delivery services, including for groceries, prescriptions and other necessities. They are safer and can help alleviate the stress of shopping during this unusual holiday season.

  1. Take care of yourself, too.

Caregivers often put their own health at risk by skipping exercise and relying on convenience foods. Sleep is in short supply for many caregivers, too. It can lead to reduced immunity and medical crisis.

While it may seem like a luxury, self-care is vital for caregivers. If you experience a health problem, it may put your senior loved one’s care in jeopardy. If you are reluctant to allow visitors into your home out of fears about COVID-19, it might be time to think “outside the home” where safety and well-being is the priority.

  1. Learn how local assisted living communities can complement your caregiving.

For some family caregivers, there comes a time when all the demands of caring for a loved one are no longer manageable at home. That’s when an assisted living community can be a solution. By taking advantage of respite programs at times like these, you can try out a community and determine if it is a good fit for your elder loved one, for your family and, especially, for you. Reaching out to a trusted advisor at a local community this holiday can be an act of love and self-preservation that you not only need but deserve.

Five Star’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

At Five Star Senior Living, we recognize that older adults and their families have concerns about the safety and viability of short- and long-term moves to an assisted living community. Visit How Five Star Is Responding to the COVID-19 Virus for details and statements from our leadership team. We also encourage you to call the Five Star community nearest you with any questions.

 

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