BESTie and caregiver, Maggie DePuye-Phillips (pictured above), is back with Caregiver’s Corner (and she even provided the BEST Kick-starter Quote of the Week, see below). For this column, Maggie tackles managing the holidays as a caregiver. With the holidays right around the corner, this information couldn’t be more timelier!  Read on and feel free to share with the important caregivers that you know in your life. You’ll be glad you did!
Caregiver’s Corner (Holiday Talk) 
With the holiday season just around the corner, many of us become excited with the traditions that come with it.  Decorations, meal preparation, parties, vacation plans, shopping and the like. Yet when you add all of those responsibilities to your everyday caregiver duties, it’s no wonder the holidays become a blur and overbearing, when it is supposed to be joyous time for you and your loved ones!
Have no fear! I have found a few amazing tips in my caregiver toolkit to help you get through the holidays. 
1.  Make a Holiday-To-Do List and/or Calendar:  Be sure to include every little task, including due dates of when to mail out holiday cards and gifts, parties, baking cookies, holiday programs, shopping and wrapping gifts. Don’t forget to include your regular schedule and pampering appointments so that you can plan accordingly and effectively. 
2.  Establish a support network:  Include family, friends, community agencies and service providers (such as your respite worker) and start delegating the various tasks you have included on your calendar.   Get comfortable directing people to assist you with these activities.  You will be amazed at how much easier and quicker you are able to accomplish the tasks, with little or no stress involved, and also enjoy the company you are with as your celebrate your traditions. 
3. Say NO!: It is not necessary to attend every single party that you are invited to or shop for every person on your list. You empower yourself when you and the loved one you care for is able to enjoy the holiday season!
4.  No Expectations = No Disappointments:  Be flexible and willing to adapt to situations that arise. This prevents you from being disappointed or guilt-ridden.  Remember, we are not perfect!
5.  Maintain self-care and  de-stressing strategies:  Just because it is the holidays does not mean to skimp out on your routine of pampering and/or yoga classes.  You will appreciate these moments more when it becomes busier.  Oh, and go ahead, have that piece of fudge and glass of wine.  It is okay to splurge on those delicious holiday morsels and spirits, but in moderation!  When you are having a moment, remember to take a deep breath, count to ten and shake it out!  Embrace that moment and move on.  

Information and Resources

I am always looking for information and resources to help me along my journey as a caregiver.  Here is a book that I am currently reading:  The Caregiver Helpbook by Powerful Tools for Caregivers, Third Edition (2013).  The book is part of a caregiver education program, designed to provide caregivers with tools to increase self-care and to boost confidence during difficult and challenging situations.  I will be sharing what I have learned in a future article and during our Caregiving Matters Support Group at the Brain Energy Support Team (BEST).

Complete a Survey on family caregiving: your voice matters!
The State of Washington/Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is looking to help current and future family caregivers!  They want to hear your ideas, experience and preferences on finding and using available caregiver resources. Please take a few moments to give them your feedback.  Click on the link provided here for the Washington State Family Caregiver Survey:
Are you an unpaid caregiver for a family member or friend and in need of respite care?  You may be eligible for the Washington State LifeSpan Respite Voucher System.  It provides a period of relief or rest for those who are not receiving respite from another source.  Check it out!
Upcoming/Ongoing Events
Caregiving Matters Support Group at BEST
 ’Tis the Season to Be Jolly:  How to Thrive During the Holidays!
We will explore, identify and discuss the various tips of how to thrive during the holidays as caregivers. Join us for light refreshments and good company! Stay tuned for more details. 
Did you know November is National Family Caregiver Month? 
In 1997, President Clinton signed a proclamation for a week recognizing and celebrating caregivers. That week in November soon turned into National Family Caregivers Month. It has evolved into more than just a time of recognition, but also a means to educate the public, promote the rights caregivers deserve and empower individuals in their roles as caregiver.  In the years to follow, many programs were implemented by various social service organizations and agencies at city, state, and federal levels, including the Veterans Administration, which created the VA Caregiver Program for Post-911 Veterans in 2010.
In King County, there are several presentations offered by the Northshore Senior Center throughout the month:
Check out your local newspapers for any upcoming events in your area.

Inspirational Stories/Quotes:

Looking for some inspiration and “feel good” stories?  Check out the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series!  They have a few  caregiver editions and recently added a traumatic brain injury edition.
Lastly, a quote to share and ponder:
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Sir Winston Churchill
I so thank you for all that you do and I know your loved one thanks you, too!  Enjoy this holiday season and be sure to be kind to yourself; that’s  the best gift to give yourself!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.