December: Stress-Free Holidays for Seniors and Caregivers

Tips to Help Seniors & Family Caregivers Enjoy the Season

The holidays don’t need to be a stressful time for seniors and their families

Even though the holidays are a time to share the joys of family and friendship, the holiday season can be a stressful time for all of us in New Jersey elder care. For seniors and their family caregivers, the added stress may sap the holiday cheer right out of them. Unrealistic expectations, loneliness, reflection on past disappointments or losses, anxiety about an uncertain future, failing to get enough sleep, and feeling generally overwhelmed are a few reasons for the holiday blues.

Stress-Busting Tips

  • Set reasonable and manageable limits for yourself.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, as well as what you want and don’t want to do.
  • Don’t compare this holiday season with the nostalgia of the past. This is a new season and can be enjoyed in a new way.
  • Ask for help in specific ways. People want to be useful to you, but may not know how they can best help. Be sure to accept their offer and be “specific” about what you like. People can’t read your mind!
  • Don’t stay isolated. Maintain your social interactions with friends and family. Have fun, laugh and focus on something other than your caregiving responsibilities.
  • Avoid overstimulation. If you’re a caregiver for a person with dementia, avoid overly stimulating environments which can increase his/her stress AND yours. Invite fewer people to dinner, for example.
  • Watch what you eat and drink. It’s OK to treat yourself, but avoid the temptation to overeat those holiday goodies or overindulge in alcoholic beverages.
  • Get your exercise. Take a walk, do yoga, take a bike ride…all can be a tremendous benefit to your physical and emotional health.
  • Find time to do something your enjoy. Reading, walking, listening to music, visiting with friends, gardening, or even learning something new.
  • Get enough sleep. You’ll be more stressed if your body is tired and drained of energy.

For more ways to have stress-free holidays, download our Stress-Free Holidays bulletin containing tips on: Helping seniors beat the holiday blues, Holiday activities that cross the generations, a Holiday stress assessment for caregivers, and Tips for caregivers. There’s also a  holiday crossword puzzle!