How to Give Caregivers Support Around the Holidays


How to Give Caregivers Support Around the Holidays


We all know caregiving isn’t easy. It is often a 24/7 job with no breaks or time off for the holidays. And not having this much needed time off can lead to loneliness and extreme fatigue.

During the holidays these feelings can be exacerbated as family and friends are preoccupied with holiday parties, gatherings, and shopping--activities that a caregiver may not have the time to partake in. So, during this time, it’s increasingly important to give caregivers our support and take a moment to show them they’re appreciated.

The following tips may give you a starting point and a little more insight on how to give caregivers support through the holidays.

1. Start by asking, “What can I do to help?”
You can’t be expected to know exactly what you can do to help or what a caregiver may need at a given time. But asking “what can I do for you?” is a good place to start. Depending on what they say, be prepared to tailor your support to their specific needs and circumstances.

Read more: Asking for Help to Relieve Caregiver Stress

2. Give the gift of your time.
Time is the greatest gift you can give. Whether it’s going to the hair salon, reading a book, or catching up on sleep, many caregivers simply miss having time for themselves. During the holidays this can be exacerbated as we have the extra stress of shopping for gifts and getting our homes ready for holiday guests. Taking over the caregiver’s responsibilities for a few hours so they can have a few hours to themselves is priceless.

3. Bring food or cook a holiday meal.
Take away the stress and burden of cooking for the holidays. If a caregiver is hosting a holiday gathering offer to bring food over or cook for them at their home. This can be an enormous relief and allow them to take care of other tasks.

4. Don’t exclude a caregiver from holiday parties because you think they won’t have time.
Make sure to keep caregivers in the loop on what’s happening and offer invitations to holiday gatherings they might be able to attend. Caregivers, just like anyone else, want to be thought of and remembered.

Additionally, don’t lay guilt on them if they decline an invitation. Sometimes caregivers are too fatigued by their day-to-day tasks to want to do anything. Be understanding of how they might be feeling at a given moment.

5. Run errands or help with housework.
You can help a caregiver by volunteering to do some of their everyday tasks. This can include simple tasks like going grocery shopping, doing laundry, or helping with yard work. During the holidays caregivers may even need help with things like wrapping presents, hanging lights, or shopping for gifts.

6. Decorate their home for the holidays.
Decorating may be the last thing on a caregiver’s to-do list around the holidays. But according to psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, "In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of childhood." So, bring a little cheer to the caregiver in your life by helping them get their home ready for the holidays. Your gesture may even evolve into a yearly tradition.

7. Most of all, listen.
Humans, in general, are prone to giving advice, pushing tips and tricks, and trying to solve others’ problems. For caregivers, this can sometimes come off as critical of their caregiving especially if it’s been a tough day or week. One of the best ways to show your support is by being present and listening--really listening. Caregivers often just need a trusted confidante to share with and vent their frustrations.

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