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Around the holidays, everyone can feel pressured to make the season merry and bright, despite their personal circumstances. While the holidays are a warm, happy time for many, they can also be hectic and difficult.

If you are caring for an aging loved one, be sure to put self-care at the top of your holiday to-do list. Photo: GettyGetty

This is often especially true for caregivers of seniors. Responsibilities can seem overwhelming with the added holiday stress. They might feel sad or wistful for bygone times or for better days with their aging loved one. Weather can add another challenge, throwing a monkey wrench in travel plans or even daily errands.

If you are caring for an aging loved one, be sure to put self-care at the top of your holiday to-do list. You can’t care for a senior properly if you are worn out physically, emotionally and mentally. The senior in your care may have special needs during the holidays, too. Here are some ways to take better care of yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.

Caring for Caregivers

When you are caring for another, it is sometimes easy to forget about your own needs. The faster pace and higher expectations of the holidays make this an even greater risk. Set aside time in your day for adequate rest and exercise. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet, and bundle up when you’re out in the cold.

Try to pace yourself. Social and family pressures are high during the holidays. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every invitation or request. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline if you are reaching your limit.

Also, schedule time just for you. This can be the hardest part of self-care for senior caregivers, but it is also the most important. Taking time to do something you enjoy, meet with friends, or just relax on your own is vital to your overall well-being. Recharging your mental and emotional batteries helps you be a more attentive, compassionate caregiver.

Caring for Seniors

Seniors can easily feel disconnected during the holidays, especially if family members are not close by or if circumstances prevent them from being with family. It is vital that seniors not spend the holidays alone, as depression is a real risk for them.

If you are caring for a senior this holiday season, companionship is the greatest gift you can give them. Listen as they reminisce about holidays gone by, and let them know that they’re not forgotten.

You can help with their physical well-being by making sure they aren’t indulging too much in holiday goodies that might be full of sugar, salt and other ingredients that could disrupt their diets. Keep them warm and avoid too much weather exposure. Check walking paths indoors and outdoors for hazards that could lead to a fall.

If possible, schedule some outings to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. Check with local senior centers for activities designed with seniors in mind, and schedule outings for off-peak hours, such as early afternoon matinees of your senior’s favorite Christmas play.

You’re Not Alone

Keeping yourself and the senior in your care healthy in body, mind and spirit this holiday season can feel like a challenge. A key element of self-care is knowing when to ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family members for help, and educate yourself on the options available for caregiving assistance. A little help could make all the difference.

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