Caregiving During the Holidays

Posted on 11/13/19

It's okay to give yourself a break.

stressed holiday caregiver

The holidays can be stressful for anyone, especially a family caregiver. In a 2017 AARP survey, nearly seven in ten caregivers said it is emotionally stressful to care for their loved
one during the holiday season (29% say “very stressful;” 39% “somewhat stressful”).

Not surprisingly, working caregivers and those caring for parents tend to feel the most stressed. In Maryland, there are more than 770,000 family caregivers jugging work, family and creating holiday memories for their loved ones.

However, there are things that caregivers can do to lessen that stress during this season.

  • Don’t feel guilty if you need to scale back or modify plans and family traditions. While you may think you need to do it all, it’s important to realistically figure out what you can do during these busy days.
  • Rather than cooking, ask family members and friends to bring dishes for a pot-luck. Or ask another family member to host. Perhaps send an electronic holiday card instead of mailing individual cards. You need to do what’s right for you and your family.
  • Taking time out for yourself will help you better take care of others. Allowing yourself to recharge mentally, physically and emotionally will help you to better focus on your daily caregiving tasks. Even simply taking 30 minutes to read a book, go for a walk or talk to a friend can help you to relax and better take on any stressful situations.
  • Ask those around you – family, friends and colleagues – for help. Many of us focus on doing so much ourselves that we forget to simply ask for help. By either enlisting others to help either with caregiving or holiday tasks, it will lessen the burden on you. And it may help someone looking for the perfect gift give you something that really matters: relief.
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So this holiday season, give yourself a gift: reduced stress and guilt. That can go a long way to making sure you have the best possible holiday season with your loved ones.

For more tips and resources to guide you as you care for your loved one and yourself, visit

This story is provided by AARP Maryland. Visit the AARP Maryland page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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