Caregiving and the Holidays: It CAN Happen With Joy!

For most of us, the holidays are about connection with those we love and cherish. People travel far and wide just to make the most of this special time of year.

How do we celebrate December while caring for those who may be compromised in body, mind or spirit? Homebound? Mentally challenged? Spiritually down?

Some of our loved ones may need extra attention that requires extra effort on our part.  

Stay present
While hanging out with a friend, she shared a story about her big holiday “scene” a few years ago that took place at her parents’ home. In a family with five adult children who lived in different cities, she couldn’t wait to spend time with her parents and siblings for the holidays.

During the course of the day, one of her sisters brought up a childhood story that flipped the mood from happy to crazy. To spare the grandkids from the shouting matches, one of the brothers rounded up his kids and left the house.

Everyone was upset for different reasons. Who wants that kind of holiday experience? No one! How does each person in this family recover from this situation when they live far apart and don’t talk a lot? Not quickly and not easily.  

Choose your words
Stay in tune with what is happening now. Try not to dredge up the past or decide you need to air out something difficult or uncomfortable in front of your guests. Find sweetness in your voice. Find a way to go outside of the circle to get fresh air and lighten up.  

Praise often
Surely, your loved one does not want your help. They want to be healthy and independent. Praise them for taking measures to spend time with you. Praise yourself for being patient and useful. Praising lifts the mood and pulls you and others into the reason for being here – celebrating togetherness.

Cherish it all
Your loved ones do not need your pity. They need you to be heart-centered and caring. Even when they are cranky, they are seeking love and attention. Hug them as long as you can. Hug them with as much warmth as you can muster. Watch the pain disappear as they receive your generous gesture. Watch them melt in the presence of true connection.

Be flexible
Festivities are not about fixed schedules, traditions and decorations. Your loved ones may no longer enjoy or benefit from what was done before. Your loved ones want to spend quality time with you. Keep your conversations light and easy. Keep your menu simple. Focus on people and on the memories. Look for ways to create meaningful moments from a place of sincerity.

Don’t be in the business of collecting sad memories; instead look for opportunities to enrich yourself and others. It takes work but it sure beats that one second of drama that gets dragged around year after year.

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