#10 - Caregiver Holiday Survival Tip: Ask for and Accept Help
Caregiving - especially caregiving during a pandemic - can be incredibly time- and energy-consuming. Add the holidays and it may feel even more overwhelming. That's why my final tip for you is:
Ask for and accept help
Maybe you don’t normally ask for - or accept - help, but the holidays are a great time to start or to add more help. Even a little bit of help can be a huge relief! Yes, we are living in a pandemic and you are probably taking many safety precautions, such as limiting or eliminating visitors to your loved ones' or your homes. But there are still many ways people can help! The problem is, we usually don't ask, and when others offer, we don't accept, or their offers are vague and we don't feel comfortable asking for specifics. It's time to get past that feeling and help someone else have the joy of giving!
Consider these ways to take some things off your list and free up some time and energy.
Holiday decorations - Family, friends, a personal assistant or concierge service can do the decorating for you - at least outside.
Shopping - Ask others to do some shopping (in person or online) for you. They could help research ideas and prices, make purchases and ship items.
Baking and cooking - It's the perfect year to ask someone else who is stuck at home to make a bit extra for you and your loved ones. Or treat yourself by ordering meals and baked goods from the local grocery store, bakery or restaurant (I did that for Thanksgiving for many years while caregiving and was such a relief and helped me enjoy the holiday more!)
Respitecare. If feasible and recommended safety precautions can be taken, ask for help with direct care for your loved ones so you can get a break. The ARCH Respite Locator can help you locate respite programs in your area. Some programs are still offering in-home care with increased safety precautions.
Caroling - ask neighbors to surprise your loved one with a song!
Chores - When someone asks you what you want for a holiday gift this year - why not come up with some practical things that will make your life easier? They can rake leaves, shovel snow, revive old yard furniture, deliver groceries, sweep the walkway, bring your mail in from the mailbox, mend clothes, take donations to drop-off centers and more! I think people are more tuned in to home this year, so they will understand and appreciate your desire to have help with these practical matters.
Phone and video calls - Ask friends and family to call your loved ones during the holidays to brighten their days and take a bit of the socialization pressure off your shoulders.
A listening ear - If this year is proving to be difficult for you, take care of your own mental health. Try opening up to a close friend or family member and tell them you just need someone to listen. We often keep things bottled up inside and that's not always helpful in the long run. You can also reach out for professional help. Many counselors are offering virtual sessions via phone or video calls (most insurance companies are approving virtual visits or tele-health due to the pandemic).
There is no shame in asking for help! In my view, we are all here to help, support and serve each other. Most people are happy to do so and I've always thought of it as building a team. No one is meant to do it all by themselves!
One more thought: I was reminded recently that this is not a dress-rehearsal for my life - this IS my life, so I need to live it to the fullest no matter the circumstances. Lock arms (even if it's virtually!) and move forward. We will get through this and still experience joy this holiday season...together! There is no need to cancel the holidays, even if things are different this year we can embrace the uniqueness and rise to the occasion!