Carers, look after yourself this Christmas

Carers, look after yourself this Christmas

December can be a hectic time, especially if you support a loved one who is living with dementia. With all the extra gatherings and events, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and miss out on taking care of your own needs.

Here are some easy tips on how to nurture yourself during the festive season.

Take care of your body – when things get hectic, remember to keep eating wholesome and healthy meals, and moving your body with exercise you enjoy. Don’t forget to drink enough water (about eight cups) during the day so you can stay well and hydrated.

Make a list of people you can call on – whether it’s someone who can help you with errands, a family member or friend you can share openly with, a counsellor or your loved one’s care worker and support coordinator, keep a list of people you can call on for help, so you are well supported.

Plan ahead – visiting family, having celebrations and gatherings can be stressful for people living with dementia. To ensure the day goes smoothly, pack a bag with appropriate medication and change of clothes, and suggest a rest place where your loved one can take a break if they need to.

It’s okay to have a break – while Christmas can come with lots of obligatory gatherings, so it’s okay to say no and have a night in if you need some time out. Life is all about balance, and taking a break for your own mental health and stress levels is important too!

Include family traditions – fun family traditions can help you stay bonded during this season, while giving everyone an opportunity to relax and have fun. Things like going through photo albums, eating favourite meals, decorating the tree together and singing carols together can be a great way to include everyone.

Make time for the things you enjoy – before scheduling everybody else in, make sure you set aside time to do things that bring you joy, whether it’s going for a walk, a creative activity, going out for coffee with a friend or a social club in your community. Filling your own bath will help you take care of others.

Don’t forget to have a laugh – life doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. If you find Christmas and New Year’s an overwhelming time, keep things simple, manage your expectations and try to maintain your sense of humour, even when mistakes are made and things don’t go according to plan.

Book in some respite – having some time off from your caring responsibilities is important as a carer of someone with dementia, so you can tend to your own needs and get some rest. If you can, try to book some respite care ahead of time. Home Caring offers flexible respite care you can trust, according to your needs.

Maintain your normal routine as much as possible – if you feel stress creeping in, sometimes it helps to stick to a simple routine that suits you and your loved one with dementia. Eating meals at regular times, having a morning routine or displaying a calendar with what’s happening in the next few weeks can help you feel calmer and more in control.

Share the jobs around – we can’t do everything on our own. If someone offers to help you with housework, bring a dish to an event, host this year’s Christmas or take a task off your hands, don’t feel bad accepting it – or asking for help (people are usually more than happy to lend a hand).

Dementia Caring provides high quality care services to support you or your loved one at home. We help seniors living with dementia the opportunity to remain independent and enjoy quality of life. For more information, please get in touch for a FREE consultation.