You sit expectantly by the window in your living room, watching for the blue van that brings your daughter and her family for their visit. Although the holidays are hectic, this is the part of the season you relish: The opportunity to see those family members and friends who rarely drop by anymore. These visits mean a great deal to you; for a few hours, you can be someone other than a caregiver.
You feel good about how the day has started: You had little trouble readying your husband for the visit. The home health aide arrived on time to assist with bathing and dressing. You even had plenty of time to get ready yourself. Your spouse keeps you company in the living room, watching for the van from the wheelchair you’ve positioned next to your chair. Yes, today you feel good.
Tonight, however, you feel terrible. The visit has turned into nothing less than a nightmare. Your daughter was shocked to see her father in a wheelchair, even though you told her that he needed one. Then, she was upset at the cost of the home health aide, demanding to know why you couldn’t bathe him yourself. “You’re home all day, Mom,” she said. “Why do you need someone to help out, especially if you’ve got the time?”
Speechless that your daughter, who has always been so supportive and kind, could be so, well, mean-spirited, you’ve been unable to utter one word in your defense. Now, as you sit on your bed, rewinding the events of the day in your mind, you can feel your face getting redder and redder. “How dare she,” you think, “how dare she imply that I’m not doing what’s best for my husband!” Now, too angry to sleep, you pace your bedroom floor. “What a way to spend the holidays,” you sigh.
Ho, Ho, Ho. It’s the holidays, a time that should be for loving family traditions but often becomes the catalyst for tension-filled family rifts. In this special section, we’ll offer practical tips to help survive the holidays, including those unpleasant run-ins with sometimes well-meaning, but always out-spoken, family members. We’ll talk about ways you can prevent these emotionally-exhausting encounters, as well as ways to deal with situations when you get side-swiped. And, we’ll offer tips on handling the Holiday MeltDown. So, during the holiday season, you’ll have a chance to rest your caregiving hat—even if it’s for a few minutes.