November is National Family Caregivers Month, and AARP has teamed up with the Ad Council in a campaign that includes the results of a new caregiving poll as well as a series of powerful public service ads highlighting the changing roles of family caregivers.
The ads also point caregivers to help from the AARP Caregiving Resource Center, which unveils two new tools this month:
- an opportunity to tell your own caregiving story and
- a searchable nationwide directory of senior-care providers that includes consumer reviews and cost information.
The new campaign underscores the fact that while we caregivers feel it’s an honor to care for our loved ones, there is a lot to juggle and it can be a very stressful journey — especially as we head into the holiday season.
So what can caregivers do to feel less stressed during this time of the year? Well, lots of things according to AARP’s Amy Goyer.
- Recognize the signs of stress and burnout. As caregivers, we give and give and give, and during the holidays we give even more! All that giving can add up to high stress levels or even full-on burnout that creeps up on you before you know it.
- Anticipate your own holiday hot buttons. Are there holiday activities or toxic relatives that trigger stress or unhappy memories? Are you feeling grief or loss that overcomes you at certain times of day? Do unhelpful relatives regularly arrive for the holidays and criticize your caregiving? Are there topics it’s better to avoid when the family gathers? It may be best to limit your exposure to — or even avoid — certain places, events or people.
- Mind your own mind-set. Acknowledge all your emotions, including fears, frustrations and sadness, during the holidays. All those emotions are perfectly normal. Try to stay mindful, concentrating on what you are doing in any given moment, rather than letting your mind wander to your ever-growing to-do list. Stay focused on the positives: Think about what you can accomplish instead of what you can’t; celebrate what your loved ones can do.
- Keep self-care at the top of the list. It’s easy to let this slip when you’re even busier than usual — just when you need it most. Keep it simple and incorporate it into your daily caregiving routine if possible.
For example: Make time for exercise; it can boost your mood. Even something as simple as walking in a shopping mall, dancing to holiday music, or stretching or doing jumping jacks while watching holiday movies can help.
For more AARP tips for caregivers during the holidays, visit AARP.