Adjusting holiday expectations



Caregivers can experience additional stress around the holidays on top of an already challenging routine. That stress is often triggered by expectations: from others and ourselves on how a holiday should be celebrated. Family traditions are something to be treasured, but when caring for an ill loved one, those traditions can quickly become burdens.

One of the more difficult aspects of family caregiving is adjusting one’s expectations when it comes to holiday celebrations. My family struggled with these changes as my father’s dementia progressed and again when my mother was recovering from cancer. When a loved one has dementia, they may not recognize that it’s a holiday. They may feel overwhelmed and extra disoriented if their routine is disrupted and extra people are in the home. Big family celebrations and travel may no longer be a good option.

It’s okay not to feel the joy that the season may bring others if you are going through a difficult time. But in order to avoid a completely miserable experience, it can help to adjust expectations. Focus on what matters most to you and the small, simple things that can bring you joy during the holidays. If there is something that is particularly meaningful, seek out the support you need to make that happen, whether it’s attending a religious service or a holiday-themed event.

While nice, the gifts or a fancy dinner isn’t what makes the holiday season special. It’s spending time with loved ones. The traditions may change, but the love remains.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.






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