A balancing act

By Erica Gower

The upcoming holiday season brings the promise of family gatherings, festive meals and the spirit of joyful celebration. Caring for an elderly loved one during the holidays can be a stressful. Here are some tips to help with the balancing act.

• Seasonal symptoms

“Dad seems so sad!” Family, friends, beautiful decorations…but your loved one seems withdrawn from it all, refusing to join the celebration.

Sadness is normal as the season brings reminders of those who are gone — a spouse, siblings, close friends. Honor their feelings and recognize their loss.

Health problems can limit your family member’s ability to participate in a favorite holiday activity. Focus on what they can do and be realistic in your expectations.

Feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression are normal during this time of the season. You may also notice irritability, frustration, complaints of sleeplessness, and changes in appetite. Talk to your loved one about what they want to do for the holidays. Help them develop a plan that includes them.

• How to help

“I can’t do it all!” During the holidays, every moment seems filled with pressing responsibilities. It can be very overwhelming as a caregiver and you can’t do it all. Keep in mind there are a variety of options to support you and your loved one:

Home-care help: hire a home care aid to assist with the care giving duties in the home.

Geriatric-care manager: typically a registered nurse or social worker the care manager acts as an advocate for their client. They identify problems and work with families on solutions.

Respite care: Home care, adult day centers, independent or assisted living communities often offer respite programs to provide temporary relief for caregivers. Enlist family and friends to help.

Despite the added stress, the holidays can still be a joyful time of year. Plan ahead and take steps to deal with the stress, and enjoy the special time you have with your loved ones.