The holidays can be a challenging time for Michigan’s family caregivers. Seasonal festivities such as shopping for gifts, wrapping presents, decorating the house and hosting parties are activities most of us look forward to all year. But for already overwhelmed family caregivers, the additional demands on their schedule can lead to burnout.

Not surprisingly, almost half of all caregivers say the holidays are just too much. If you find yourself struggling, these tips might be of help.

Managing Caregiver Stress during the Holidays

  1. Ask for and Accept Help: This can be difficult for family caregivers to do. Many see caregiving as a duty and they don’t want to ask for help. Remind yourself that if you suffer a health crisis of your own, as many caregivers do, you won’t be able to care for your loved one at all. Ask a friend who is going out shopping to pick up a few things for you. Talk to the staff at your church or synagogue to see if there are volunteers available to assist struggling caregivers. Enlist the support of an in-home caregiver from a home care agency. Or take advantage of respite services at a senior living community near your Michigan home.
  2. Be Realistic: Pinterest, Instagram and other social media channels have given most of us unrealistic expectations of what the holidays should look like. It’s important to step back and set more realistic expectations for the season. It might mean using gift bags to “wrap” presents in or purchasing gift cards online instead of shopping for the perfect present.
  3. Connect with Fellow Caregivers Online: Creating a support system of fellow caregivers who can relate to and sympathize with your struggles is another great way to manage stress. In addition to the emotional support, you will likely be able to pick up some tips from support group members on how to juggle all of the responsibilities you have. A few highly regarded online support groups and forums include ALZ Connected and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
  4. Exercise: While the very idea of adding one more thing to your schedule might seem unrealistic, exercise can actually give you a mental and physical boost. And researchers now know that breaking your 30 minutes of daily exercise up in to segments (i.e. 2- fifteen minute walks or a fifteen minute walk combined with fifteen minutes on a stationary bike) have the same health benefits as 30 minutes of continuous exercise.

Our final holiday survival tip for family caregivers is to give yourself permission to say “no.” When someone asks you to bring a casserole to the church fundraiser or help wrap gifts for a local shelter, you might feel guilty about not pitching in. Remind yourself that it is okay to just take care of you and your family this year.


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