If you are a family caregiver and experience the holidays as a time of anxiety or stress, you are not alone. Increased exposure to older relatives can highlight areas of concern. Memory loss, mobility challenges, and changes in home or hygiene are a sampling of what you might encounter with a little extra time spent with loved ones
After recognizing there is a problem, the question that often arises is “what can we do about it”? When family comes together for
special occasions, the last task on the list is planning for the future together. Moving from concern to action can feel overwhelming. Complex family dynamics and the resistance of the older person to engage present a real challenge
In bringing up the conversation, you may fear coming across as disrespectful or not wish to talk about unpleasant topics over the holidays. One tip is to remember that each of us will age, and each of us will need support in that process. Developing a plan for aging improves quality of life, preserves finances, and contributes to positive family relationships.
So where do I start?
We at The Care Plan have compiled a Holiday “How To” Guide to get you through the holidays and gracefully contribute to the wellness of your loved ones.
1) Make A List And Check It Twice
Prior to the holiday season, monitor your loved one and connect with family to get feedback. It is unlikely that you are the only person concerned about your loved one. Talking about problems ahead of time, without the stress of the holidays takes the pressure off.
2) Clarify Holiday Meeting Goals
Once you’ve identified the concerns, prioritize the top three. Be objective about what problems are most time sensitive, what impairs safety and areas of risk for your loved one. Be clear about the three shared concerns you’d like to address while the family is all together.
3) Invite The Care Team
Set a meeting during the holidays and invite family members to attend. Personalize it to your particular situation. Email or phone is the best way to avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings. Try to engage the loved one in need of care. If this is not possible, proceed with the planning session but arrange for care coverage.
4) Put On Your Project Manager Hat
Create an agenda. View your family members as collaborators. Acknowledge their skill sets, recognize current involvement, and keep the meeting on course.
5) Create Action Steps
After everyone has had their say, return to areas of agreement and develop action steps. No one should be pressured into doing more than they are capable of. Caregivers are most successful when their skills match the area of responsibility.
6) Move Forward
Summarize the meeting, send notes to participants, and plan when to meet again. You all have busy schedules, it can be difficult to schedule meetings once people return to their busy lives. Check in regularly via conference call or in-person meetings to continue progress.
7) Care For Yourself
Make a plan for self-care or a relaxing activity after the meeting. Whether that is toasting the success with a glass of wine, going to a movie, or getting a massage, do something to mark the occasion.
The holidays should not be forgotten in the wake of developing your plan. We recommend you schedule the care planning meeting for the day after the holidays when people are hopefully in a more relaxed space.
Enlisting the help of a third party facilitator can contribute to the success of these meetings. Under the best of circumstances it can be challenging for family caregivers to talk with each other with honesty, respect and focus.
The Care Plan is a ready resource to provide caregiver coaching or in-person facilitation services. This person can also save you time and money by educating the group on area resources available to address the concerns at hand. We can be reached at 630-479-0083 or firstname.lastname@example.org for consultation and support.