Senior Caregiving Help During the Holidays

Make Caregiving Manageable During the Holidays

Ah, the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time of year- right? As we all know it can be a very busy and stressful time as well. Between the shopping, cooking, and traveling it gets hectic, especially for those who serve as a primary caregiver to a loved one. In particular, the sandwich generation may be caring for an elderly parent and bringing kids back from college for winter break. Caregivers deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas just as much as the next guy, if not more. But sometimes there just are not enough hours in the day.

Whether you need a few good hours to fight the Christmas shopping crowds or plan to travel out of town to spend Christmas with your very first grandchild; is it feasible to do so with a frail loved one living alone, who needs your daily attention? As the holiday season quickly ascends upon us it’s good to know that there are some great options out there for those caring for an aging parent or loved one.

Beat Black Friday Blues

For many shoppers Black Friday is a holiday unto itself. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not, we know that people are determined to get up at the crack of dawn, get the best deals possible, and buy that “gotta have it” doll or action figure for the grandkids, which they will love and play with for approximately 3½ days.  You then realize as you plot your shopping trip, I need to sit with dad while he takes his shower plus restock his weekly pill box, even though he insists he doesn’t need your help.

If you have shopping to do or you’re just plain busy no matter what season it is, several solutions can make your life a bit more manageable.  Let’s explore. First, there are some great technology solutions. An emergency call system, such as Philips Lifeline, can be the difference between your father getting help immediately after falling versus laying there for hours before someone discovers him. The Lifeline Auto-Alert option can even detect a fall and send a signal if the person is knocked unconscious. Philips GoSafe emergency call system works both in the home and out featuring GPS tracking technology. Philips also offers the Philips Medication Dispensing (PMD) System, which can help dad manage his medications safely and effectively. Face time, which is available on most Apple mobile devices, or Skype can be a great way to provide face to face interaction as well to view how dad “looks” today.

If you have aversion to technology, another option is non-medical home care. Hire an aid to come stay with mom or dad for several hours or several days. There are number of non-medical home-care agencies around to pick from. Particularly, Messiah Lifeways at Home offers traditional home-care services like help with bathing, housekeeping, and cooking, but they also provide unique home care services like non skilled home-maintenance like lawn care, minor home repairs, transportation, and even pet and plant care. Another great choice are Adult Day Programs. Messiah Lifeways Adult Day offers a day program where a loved one can come for a full or half day of activities, socialization, meals, plus receive assistance with activities of daily living. These programs are cost effective and offer great flexibility because your loved one can attend once a week or multiple days. What a great gift to give yourself, the gift of time and security.

Peace of Mind for Holiday Travel

As family becomes more spread across the country, it leaves many caregivers with the predicament of traveling versus staying home for the holidays. This is especially true if the person you’re caring for can’t make the 10 hour drive or the cross country flight. This decision is tough. However, if you choose to go away for the holidays or any other time for that matter, a respite stay for the person you care for may be the answer. Respite provides short-term or temporary care and is typically available at most personal care homes or assisted living facilities. As a respite your loved one can receive the same services a permanent resident would, like meals, activities, medication monitoring, and assistance with activities of daily living. You can arrange for the individual to stay for several days up to a month. Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village offers respite in personal care for as little as a five day stay. It provides a safe, secure, and nurturing place for them to spend while you are out of town. Holiday activities and cooking, plus special events like Christmas concerts and celebrations make the time even more enjoyable. Respite can also include a combination of overnights in personal care or adult day services and home care to supplement care. There are many different options to consider.

Additional Holiday Caregiving Tips

Unlike Santa Claus, we do not have magical powers. You cannot be in multiple places in a flash. Ask for help from family and friends and learn how to delegate tasks. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Another thing to consider, and though it may be a hard choice, you may want to re-evaluate old traditions and family rituals that involve lots of travel or preparation time. You should also develop priorities for the things that matter most. You can’t be all things to all people and don’t feeling guilty about the things you cannot change. You should also schedule time to do the things that you like to do around holidays. You deserve to enjoy the holidays too. Set aside time to relax and talk to your loved one about the holidays and really listen to as they reminisce.

For additional information about the many options available to make the holidays more manageable please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Office at 717.591.7225 or online at

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

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