The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but many fail to realize the holidays are also a sad time for a lot of people. For some, they may be away from family or grieving the loss of a loved one. If you are caregiving for someone who might be away or cannot be with family during the holidays, here are a few ways you can cheer them up.
Deanna Hearn, former caregiver and president of the Nevada Caregivers Coalition, says the most important thing to do is to make an effort to include them in holiday activities to encourage the holiday spirit. She said the worst thing you can do is to exclude people during the holidays.
1. Share Activities
Sharing holiday activities with people can make things more joyful, especially for those who can’t get around due to mobility issues. You can ask them to do light work like wrapping gifts or choosing which kind of decorations to put up around the house.
2. Intimate Gathering
The holidays are about being with family and friends, but what if the person you are caring for don’t have family close by? If the person you are caring for is going to be alone this holiday season, you can offer to throw an intimate gathering for them instead with warm food and hot drinks.
3. Music is Magic
There are a lot of holiday activities in the community – concerts, ballet recitals, Christmas carols and so on. According to Deanna, music is magical – whether you are 15 or 90, songs are heartwarming, good for people to share, and are meaningful to us. Music connects us all and connection is what fuels the holiday spirit.
4. Learn More About their Traditions
It is important for caregivers to understand the tradition of the person they are caring for. Traditions can make the holiday alive for people even if they are old or sick – it helps them remember where they are from. Deanna shares:
“I really like the idea of honoring cultures and traditions. I think that’s so important when caring for someone who may celebrate the holidays differently. This may bring them warm memories of when they were growing up, or when they were raising their children or even the lives they lived in another country. All of that is important at a time when people often feel lonely and unable to play an active role in the world they once knew. People give up so much when they need caregiving support that anything the caregiver can do to make their lives richer and more joyful is especially important during the holidays which can be a melancholy time for many.”
5. Simply Being There for Them
We have all heard of toxic positivity by now, which can be detrimental for people who are going through a tough time. If the person you are caring for is sad or is going through a rough time during this year, you can simply just be there for them. When we care about people, it is in our nature to want to make things better for them, but we have to accept that we cannot fix their feelings. Instead, we can offer a listening ear to them for support.
Caregiving can be tough. We would like to thank all caregivers for all the hard work you consistently do, even on days when it is hard, like the holidays. We hope you are able to spend time with family during this time and recognize when you need a break because you deserve it. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season!
Read more stories on caregiving during the holidays.
For more information on resources, please call the Community Foundation at 775-333-5499.
Story by: Deanna Hearn
Interview conducted by: Luiza Benisano