‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for caregivers, this can mean more like the season to be constantly on the go, where you might find yourselves knee-deep in to-do lists and caregiving duties.
That’s because the festive season introduces social, emotional and logistical challenges that make caregiving more demanding. For instance, more social gatherings to attend could mean prepping meals ahead of time and medicine to go, while managing logistics and coordinating schedules for get-togethers can be time-consuming and stress-inducing.
But it need not be this way. With a dash of planning and a sprinkle of support, you can balance celebrating the Christmas season while ensuring your loved ones receive the care they need. Here are some pointers we suggest keeping in mind:
Understand and identify your needs
First things first, Santa shouldn’t be the only one making lists! Grab pen and paper — or use a note-taking app, if you prefer — and outline your caregiving tasks and responsibilities.
From grocery shopping to medication management and everything in between, be specific and don’t shy away from breaking things down. The more clarity you have about what you need, the easier it is to tackle them — and get the help you need.
This brings us to the next point…
Identify and build your support network
There’s a saying, “It takes a village” and it doesn’t just refer to raising children. It also applies to caregiving, especially during the holidays! Now is the time to reach out to family, friends, and even neighbours who are willing to help. Be specific about what you need, like picking up groceries, wrapping presents, helping to clean up — or even just providing a listening ear for you. Most people are willing, you just need to tell them how they can help you best.
Ask the experts: If friends and family are not enough, know that you also have options outside of your immediate circle. The Agency for Integrated Care can link you up with care options and services that can help make caregiving at home better. Click this link for more information: https://www.aic.sg/care-services/
Draw up a list (of caregiving duties) and check it twice
Even the most efficient caregiver needs help. Despite having your routine down to perfection, it helps to let others do the tasks if only to give you a little breather.
Wary that they may not do the task properly? How about hosting a caregiving training session with friends and family? It doesn’t have to be intense training, but a crash course on your loved ones’ needs can go a long way. Teach them how you do your routine and provide clear instructions on tasks, medications and other specific care requirements. You can also have a Q&A session so they can ask questions if they are unclear about certain things.
Remember, this isn’t just about helping you out, it’s about ensuring that your loved one receives the care they need, even if it’s from someone else for a short while.
Make it more fun: To add some holiday magic, make it into a fun gathering with some nibbles and music — consider it a precursor to all the holiday gatherings you’re likely to have.
As you navigate the festive season, don't forget to acknowledge and appreciate the support you receive. Whether it's a friend who brings over a hot meal or a family member who takes over for a few hours, let them know you see and appreciate their efforts. Gratitude isn't just good for the soul; it's a powerful motivator for those who help.
Thank-you token list: To show how much you appreciate their help, small tokens of appreciation go a long way, like a heartfelt thank-you card or cookies you baked yourself (or even store-bought if you don’t have time). Consider organising a casual get-together in person, fostering a sense of camaraderie among friends and family.
Don't forget self-care throughout the process
Remember that you’re not a superhero, accept that not everything will go off without a hitch. After all, imperfections are what make the festive season more memorable. Set realistic expectations for yourself, your family and friends. Don’t forget to celebrate the small victories and embrace the joy amidst the chaos.
Be good to yourself self-care list: Take time out for yourself — whether that means a leisurely shower or a 20-minute nap, a quiet walk or even just a cup of coffee or tea enjoyed in silence. Remember that you’re not just a caregiver, you’re a vital part of the holiday festivities, so take a deep breath, savour the moments and enjoy the magic of the season.