The holiday season is filled with happiness, cheer, and family visits. As a caregiver, those family visits can be wonderful, but also introduce interruptions to your routine, especially if your visitors are staying with you in the house.
Here are five ways to stay in your caregiving flow when family comes to town.
#1. Warn them about priorities.
People like to be treated like guests and get waited on hand and foot when they’re visiting. Even family. Maybe ESPECIALLY family. Be sure to warn them up front that your caregiving responsibilities come before their needs and that they are able-bodied and can do things for themselves. You can be blunt since, well, they’re family. They’ll understand.
#2. Show them what you do each day.
Many family members don’t have a good idea of what gets done each day to take care of your loved one. They’re in the privileged position of not having to do much, if anything, to help out. A clever way to expose them to the routine is to walk them through it all one day as they’re there. At that point, they’ll get the picture. You can also send them the list of daily activities that you’re doing while they’re in town so they get the visual picture ahead of time. Either way, showing them what’s required will result in your gaining newfound respect among family members.
#3. Recruit help.
If you do #2, then this one becomes second nature. Your family can see how to help immediately and see how to help out while they’re in town or in the house. That can get you a few minutes of solitude, respite, or free time to do other things, like holiday shopping for gifts for THEM. Funny how family become very helpful when they know you’re out buying them presents.
#4. Start a group messaging conversation.*
As it becomes clear what is required to care for your loved one, family will want to be kept updated periodically on status. A group messaging conversation can keep everyone in the loop, and also increases overall communication between remote family members, which is actually nice. Using your caregiving role to bring family closer together this holiday season can be a very positive side effect of their visits.
#5. Ask for ongoing help.
Having earned the respect of family members for your caregiving role, the other benefit is feeling more comfortable asking for help. In the group conversation you can ask if anyone can do a particular task. No matter how small, people will feel more connected to you and want to help. This is an easy way to get them to contribute.
*NOTE: Make sure you’re using a HIPAA-compliant messaging app, like Care3, for this group conversation. When sharing personal health information of a patient, the data must be confidential and protected. The popular messaging apps like FB Messenger, iMessage, and SMS are NOT secure for healthcare conversations.
So take advantage of the family time this holiday season while staying in your caregiving flow. Use this time to share what you’re doing in your caregiving role and recruit others to help, not only while they’re visiting, but beyond as well.