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Tips for Caregivers for a Less Stressful Holiday Season

A new poll shows 79 percent of caregivers would appreciate someone to talk to during the holidays and 73 percent would like help with holiday tasks. (AARP)
A new poll shows 79 percent of caregivers would appreciate someone to talk to during the holidays and 73 percent would like help with holiday tasks. (AARP)
December 19, 2017

PHOENIX – A new poll shows almost 70 percent of people caring for a loved one deal with emotional stress over the holidays, and experts at AARP have a few tips to improve the situation.

The poll shows that 85 percent of caregivers had to scale back their plans, such as only going to some of the holiday gatherings and shopping online or buying gift cards.

Amy Goyer, a family caregiving expert for AARP and author of the book "Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving," advises caregivers to take some time for themselves to recharge.

"Get someone else to be with your loved ones for even a couple of hours and you can get some shopping done, some decorating," she says. "Do some of the things that are most meaningful to you this holiday season."

She also recommends only making the holiday foods that are sentimental for you this time of year, and buying some of the meal ready-made or asking others to make some of the food. For more tips, go to www.aarp.org/caregiving.

Many families go to visit older loved ones during the holidays - so Goyer says it's important to keep an eye out for red flags. For example, if the mail is piling up, they appear disheveled, the house is in disrepair or there are some new dents and scratches on the car. She says it's important not to put your loved one on the defensive by dwelling on what has gone wrong.

"Instead, say 'I love you so much and I want to be there for you and help and support you,'" she adds. "'Are there any things that are difficult for you right now?' So if you approach it that way, if you're not trying to take over their lives, they're going to be a lot more open to it."

Goyer also recommends that it may be better to discuss any big changes after the holidays, and invite your loved one's most trusted friends, family members and doctor to be a part of the conversation. In addition, she says it's a good idea to plan some fun activities for January to help combat the post-holiday blues.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ