How do I manage the stress of being a caregiver at holiday time?

“One of the first ways is giving ourselves permission to accept help,” says Heather Greene, LCSW, Director of Resident and Family Services at Mountainside Residential Care Center, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), in Margaretville.

“That can be anything from accepting an invitation to dinner to having someone come visit with your loved one.”

When maintaining old traditions becomes stressful, it’s important to conquer the fear of starting new ones, she adds. “Maybe it’s celebrating on a date other than the exact holiday or enlisting others to help with dinner by bringing their favorite dish.”

If family members lock horns or cause tension, point out the strengths and skills of each, she suggests. “You could say: ‘Bob, you’re really good at finances, but they’re not my strong suit. Do you think you could help Mom with her checkbook every month?’ This way, you’re building a team of support around your loved one, and yourself.”

Finally, Greene underscores the importance of self-care. “If you get sick and exhausted, you can’t care for your loved one. Try to set aside at least half an hour to make sure you’re hydrated, eating healthily, doing something simple that you enjoy and, most important, planning for the future. Take a breath and find things for which you’re grateful in this season so that you too can enjoy it! Involve your loved ones, look ahead and find the support you’ll need for the coming year.”

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