Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays are coming. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. It’s easy to get a bit frazzled this time of year. Holidays can be extra difficult to manage when your loved ones are aging, whether you are a caregiver or a relative, or if you are aging yourself. Either scenario can be wonderful and memorable, but they can both be equally stressful as well. The excitement of having friends and relatives visit often comes with an increase in anxiety for seniors and their caregivers. Everything from changes in routine to meal planning for a crowd can cause holiday stress.  It can be a struggle to enjoy time together while managing your loved one’s medications and daily schedule, and if you’re traveling to visit, you may notice changes in your loved one that weren’t apparent at your last visit, overshadowing the joys of the season. Stress shouldn’t detract from the joy of the season, and it doesn’t have to if you follow some simple guidelines.

Here are some ways to keep the holiday season from becoming overwhelming for both you and your loved one:

  • Grief can be a stressor for seniors during the holidays. For seniors who’ve lost a loved one, the holidays can trigger difficult memories. Many find that talking about those loved ones who are no longer present and reminiscing about holidays spent with them can be a joyful experience. Acknowledging the loss helps to ease the pain and can become a meaningful activity.
  • Dietary concerns seem to affect nearly everyone over the holiday season. The temptation to overindulge is ever-present and can be especially worrisome for seniors who are on multiple medications or need to follow a restricted diet. Eating a healthy snack prior to a large holiday meal can help to ease temptation and the effects of overeating. Staying hydrated and avoiding excessive alcohol intake also helps maintain healthy habits.
  • Upholding traditions can become a point of contention and stress for seniors and their family members. When a senior can no longer take charge of the holiday meal or the decorating, it may be time to create new traditions that allow your loved one to remain an active participant. Going “potluck” for holiday dinners can limit the stress on one family member. Scaling back on decorations can keep the tradition from becoming overwhelming. Gift-giving can even be accomplished with online shopping for those who can no longer manage the chaos of holiday-season malls.

Holiday stress is manageable. With some extra forethought, the holiday season can be a joyful occasion for seniors and caregivers, as well as visiting friends and family. Simplifying, planning ahead and managing expectations can ease anxiety for everyone involved.

Thank you to Senior Living Blog for the article: