If you’re part of the so-called “Sandwich Generation,” you may find yourself in dire need of a holiday break. Sure, a trip to a fancy spa sounds lovely, but you’d settle for a 30-minute bubble bath with no interruptions. While you’re taking care of everyone else, who’s taking care of you?

That’s why we’re introducing caregivers to the 12 Days of Christmas for Caregivers. And unlike the traditional Christmas song, you don’t have to wait around for your true love to give these to you. Self-care is the name of the holiday game, as you continue your solo task of caring for everyone around you.

The 12 Days of (Caregiver) Christmas

Day 1: Make yourself a priority. Yes, easier said than done. To care for others, you must care for yourself. It’s time to change your mindset. Give yourself permission to take care of your own needs.

Day 2: Talk to the family. Ideally, you have other adults around to share the burden. They may need a not-so-subtle reminder to pick up the slack. Give your children the gift of responsibility by teaching them to pack their own lunches or fold their own laundry.

Day 3: Consider professional caregivers. You may have promised yourself that you would never allow a stranger to care for your beloved parent or senior relative. Stop and think what this means. Would you want your own children to compromise their health and well-being to care for you 24/7? Make peace with letting someone else lessen the load.

Day 4: Adjust your holiday tasks. Maybe you’ve always prepared a huge family feast for Christmas Eve. If you just don’t have the energy this year, pop a frozen pizza in the oven and tell the family you’re doing things differently. Years from now your kids may wax poetically about the traditional Christmas Eve frozen pizza.

Day 5:  Use the technology at hand. Are people constantly calling for an update on Mom? Start a group text or social media page to offer regular reports. If you have a tech-savvy youngster, let them handle the updating tasks.

Day 6: Exercise. Depending on your feelings about exercise, this may or may not be a gift. But regular exercise is essential to your physical and mental health. Even if you only walk around the block, you’re pushing blood through your veins and oxygen to your brain.

Day 7: Shop for yourself. If you have a spouse or family members who know how to shop for you, that’s awesome. If not, purchase a few things for yourself, wrap them up and stick them in your stocking. You deserve holiday treats!

Day8: Schedule the appointments you keep putting off. We understand. You’re too busy to schedule an annual physical exam or ask a medical professional to look at that mole on your arm. Refer to Day 1. You must put yourself first.

Day 9: Take a hard look at finances. You may be losing sleep over how you’re going to pay for caregivers or long-term care. Douse your nightmares with a bucket full of reality. A financial advisor or eldercare attorney can help you design a care plan within your resources. While you’re at it, sign the important papers. Your loved one’s health can change with one accident or illness. Do you have signed power of attorney documents allowing you to make health care decisions? It’s always better to have these too soon that be left without them during a health crisis. If you’re not sure who to call, check out the Senior Resources page on the Senior Living Advisor website.

Day 10: Plan a night out. Get out of the house for an evening. Splurge on a nice dinner or just drive around looking at holiday decorations in the neighborhood.  

Day 11: Let it out. You may feel guilty because you’re frustrated or annoyed with the unrelenting demands on your time. Consider this your permission to feel angry. This may not have been the life you envisioned. Occasionally you must take out the emotional trash before it builds up. Talk to a non-judgmental friend or write down your thoughts in a journal. You’re carrying a heavy load. Don’t let your emotions add to the burden.

Day 12: Take that bath. Remember the uninterrupted bubble bath you’ve been craving? You’re allowed to lock the door behind you when the kids are in bed and the phone’s not ringing with demands. Throw in some scented bubble bath, grab a book and relax. You deserve it.

How are the holidays treating you this year? If you’re overwhelmed as you try to care for everyone around you, it may be time to look at different options. Senior Living Advisor is here for you during every step of the journey as you work to find a safe, comfortable living option for the people you love. Contact us now and set up a free consultation.