Advice For Caregivers During The Holidays
Holiday cheer. Family get-togethers. Festive traditions. The holidays are for making memories with loved ones and enjoying time together. Unfortunately, the holiday season can also increase stress levels for many – especially caregivers. We sat down with Edgehill’s Executive Director, Chris Barstein, and he shared advice on how caregivers can best manage holiday stress.
What is the No. 1 tip you would share with caregivers and caregiving spouses on how to keep stress to a minimum?
Laugh! Always look for joy in small moments each day.
What are some resources caregivers can use to get help?
Support groups are a great resource. Even if you learn nothing new, it is an opportunity to share with those who are going through the same challenges as you; you are NOT alone. Don’t isolate yourself and your loved one.
In your experience as executive director of a senior living community, do you notice a lot of caregivers looking for help around the holidays? If yes, why do you think that is?
Holidays can be an emotional time for all of us. Caregivers often find their situations become more stark as they remember holidays past. Also, the holidays put added stress on everyone as the demands of family, gifts and gatherings get closer.
What are some ‘warning’ signs that it might be time to move to a senior living community?
Recent accidents or close calls. Increased frailty; the common cold becomes a serious event. Your loved one doesn’t take care of his or herself to the same degree as in the past in their dressing or grooming. Their house isn’t as clean and well-maintained as in the past.
Why shouldn’t someone wait until a crisis to make the move?
A senior living community is just that, a community. Your loved ones will make more friends and connections at their highest level of function and have those connections when a crisis does occur.
Many caregivers experience guilt as they wonder if they’re doing all they can do for their loved one. What recommendations do you have for these individuals who are feeling guilty?
Don’t! Guilt is common and to be expected, but realize you’re not a superhero, you’re just human. It helps to talk with others in the same situation as you; it puts things into perspective.
What resources does Edgehill offer people in this position?
Edgehill has its own support groups for family and caregivers, but more importantly, we have the professionals here to provide direct care to your loved one.
What is the first piece of advice you’d give someone who is starting to feel drained instead of joy around the holidays?
Seek opportunities for, and take a break; even if only for five minutes. You need to take time for yourself each day and at every opportunity.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Always keep communicating with your loved one. Look them in the eyes, hold their hand, tell them what you’re doing, ask them questions. Too often a caregiver gets into “task mode” and it’s easy to treat them like an inanimate object instead of a person.
About Christopher Barstein
Chris Barstein, executive director at Edgehill Community, a Benchmark Senior Living Community in Stamford, Conn., has dedicated his career to improving the lives of seniors and enhancing human connection. Under his leadership, the Stamford-based, Type A Lifecare, all-inclusive continuing care retirement community offers exceptional, maintenance-free senior housing, a wide variety of premium services and amenities, and a full continuum of on-site health care. For more information on Edgehill and the services they provide, visit www.EdgehillCommunity.com.