I attended a teleseminar last night with Pat Samples, an author and professional speaker about caregiving. It has finally dawned on me that those that are caring for their parents in their homes are often dealing with the same issues and emotions as children who are trying to help their aging parents move.
Holidays can be a difficult even in families without a crisis. Add to the stress of the holidays the decision to get an elderly loved one ready to move to a senior housing community and you've got a recipe for the blues. Here are some tips to cure the holiday blues, as shared to us by Pat Samples:
1. Take Care of Yourself. You're often the last person who gets taken care of at a time of family crisis...if you aren't at your best and ready to take on the day, you won't be very effective at helping anyone else. Eat right (push away that cookie tray), sleep right, exercise (take 5 minutes to stretch, you're body will thank you!), consider taking some supplements.
2. Use your "Guilt Eraser". We spend a lot of time adding things to our to do list that "should" get done. Take time to evaluate your list of to-dos and limit your list ONLY to those things that are really important. ERASE the guilt that comes from not doing the things you feel you "should" do. Perhaps spending some extra time with your loved one is more important than Baking cookies for your neighbors-at least this year.
3. Light your "creative match". If the pilot light is on, but not lit, the gas coming into your home is nothing but poisonous. Light that pilot light, and you get warmth. Light up your creativity this holiday season with your family and loved ones by taking the time to play. Think back to your fondess memories of the holidays and they likely involve crafts or games you played. Have fun, be silly, play!
4. Write a letter. It's okay to acknowledge this may be the last holiday you spend in your family home. Spend some time writing, write a letter to your parent, your higher power, or just Holiday's past and honor those past holiday's with your memories. Then, look forward to holiday's yet to come, new people who are in your life to help you and your parents get through the transition, and new traditions you and your family will begin.
5. Spiritual Life Support. Stop. Breathe. This can be as simple as stopping to look at the stars, the beauty of the snow, the blessings in your life, or following some formal religious traditions. Taking a few minutes to slow down and listen to your inner voice...making sure not to indulge any guilt!
6. Find a way to honor the seniors in your life. If it has been your mom's job to make the lefse every year, pass that job to somone else to do in her honor. This is how tradition's live on and are passed down from the generations.
Pat Samples produces a newsletter that announces opportunities for you to listen in on her teleseminars. I highly recommend it, whether you're a caregiver or work with caregivers it's time well spent.