A Holiday Tip to Help Your Family Caregiver

Holidays might be grand, wonderful times of exciting hustle for most families but for many primary family caregivers they only add more stress and lead to deeper despondency. If you are a caregiver, remind yourself that you don’t need to live to any one’s expectations but your own. Enlist your family’s help and if they balk, you can do the same – you don’t have to fill the void.

Families, here’s how you can help: Cleaning and cooking. Yes, it is that simple. After dinner and after gift unwrapping are the two most exhausting non-care chores that your help will cheer the caregiver the most. For Chanuka, there will be approximately 22 people here all grating potatoes and onions to prepare the annual Extended Family Latke feast. I am willing to host this not only because my mother can’t really travel, but because I know that my sister’s in-laws will be right there with the clean-up. (Not that I’m not hoping that now that the kids are older the mess might be less, but don’t count on it. Have you ever had 6 people grating 10 pounds of potatoes in the dining room?)

The actual frying of the latkes will probably be handled by one or two of us (how many people can stand in front of a standard 4 burner stove, anyway?) but almost everyone wants a chance to flip the latkes. Make sure you, not the caregiver, takes responsibility for assigning who brings what (in our case that’s oil, potatoes, onions, graters, sour cream, applesauce, drinks, paper plates, etc).

Don’t leave the house looking like a fight broke out with wrapping paper and dirty dishes (or cookware) left everywhere. Get it clean before you go home (or mostly clean, I can handle a little leftover straightening up the next day) or at least easy to finish up cleaning.

Most of all, remember to include both caregiver and care recipient in the action and in hugs. There’s nothing like a comforting hug when it all feels like too much.

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