Caregiving During the Holidays: Reduce Stress for a Memorable Last Christmas

While the Christmas season ushers in joyful traditions, the needs of your loved one with end-stage illness don’t take a holiday. Grief is normal as you navigate holidays that look different than years past. As a caregiver for someone under hospice care, how can you create a memorable time together during the holidays without getting overwhelmed? 

Adjust expectations and simplify your plans. 

You’ve likely had to rearrange much of your life to prioritize caring for your loved one; the holidays are no different. This year can still be memorable even when your calendar is simplified. Consider these options:

  • Order takeout or delivery rather than cooking an elaborate meal.
  • Scale back on gift-giving or forgo exchanging gifts.
  • Cut back on activities that cause stress and prioritize those that hold the deepest meaning. Watching beloved Christmas movies together, driving around to look at lights, or playing holiday music are all low-key traditions.

Remember self care.

To avoid fatigue and burnout, remember to sleep, drink water, eat well, and move your body even if it’s in short intervals. If possible, try to find 15 minutes of caregiving-free time each day when you can take a walk outside, engage in a creative activity, or simply relax. Allow yourself to grieve in private or collectively with others.

Ask for help.

Requesting help is a necessity any time of year for caregivers, but especially so during the holidays. Don’t hesitate to ask friends and other family members to step in and assist – even a few hours can be a huge relief. Ask for others to lend a hand with holiday preparations, running errands, or simple household chores. Hospice volunteers are also often available to spend quality time with patients, and Respite Care may be a possibility.

Make memories.

Sharing fond memories and silly stories of past holidays is a well-worn tradition at family gatherings. Do the same with your loved one who’s on hospice care even if they can’t respond. Look through old photos together. If they’re able to interact, ask meaningful questions provided in the Heart to Heart Memory Journal to capture cherished reflections, memories, and last wishes. If your family typically attends a concert or religious program, stream one to watch at home. 

Creating a memorable holiday season for your loved one is a gift to them and to yourself. Let go of unnecessary expectations and make room for low-key, yet priceless, memories. Heart to Heart Hospice is here to provide not only medical support, but emotional, spiritual, and relational support to hospice patients and their caregivers. To learn more about Heart to Heart Hospice, reach out today to help bring comfort and joy to your holidays.