There are more than 65 million people in America who are caregivers of a loved one who is chronically ill or disabled or aging.
Some of these people are of course taking care of loved ones with breast cancer. Some are giving care to loved ones during the acute-treatment phase of the disease, while others are caring for patients who have metastatic disease and will lose their lives to breast cancer.
Go easy on yourself
There are only so many hours in a day. It’s not possible to cram any more activities in without sacrificing sleep or your own health. So don't. Also, for some of you, this might be the last holiday season you’ll have with this person, so making it special is important. Just don't try to do this alone. If you or someone you care about is currently serving in the role of caregiver, give some thought to the timesavers below, especially during this time of year.
Consider taking advantage of some of the following relief services, which can be purchased for a nominal fee.
Groceries delivered right to your door
Several chain grocery stores now give you the option of ordering your groceries online and having them delivered to your home. This means you can skip sorting through aisles of items, and bypass the long checkout lines. The hours you’ll save are worth what you’ll pay for this special service.
Take the time to get your own flu shot
Most pharmacies now offer them without even an appointment and, if you have a flexible spending health account, it will likely cover the $30 for the shot. Remember, you can't take care of others if you yourself are ailing.
Raking leaves and other yard work
This is the ideal time to solicit a teenager to help you with these tasks. The teens in your neighborhood who know how to do such chores will welcome the additional income this time of year.
Decorating your home for the holidays
Creating a festive atmosphere is pleasurable for everyone, including you and your ailing loved one, but oftentimes the pressures of delivering hourly care robs us of the time we’ll need to convert our house (or your loved one’s home) into a festive sight. So, why not invite friends, family, and other persons special in the life of the loved one to come and have a holiday decorating party? Let others take over the decorating; you just make a list of what you want and where you want it. This includes purchasing the tree, if you usually get a live one each year.
An artificial tree?
This might also be the year that you finally try an artificial tree—you decide.
Again, recruit others to help you with this. Your sister might be the one to take charge of cookie baking this year, rather than you having to organize things.
We know from clinical research that music reduces stress, reduces pain, and even lowers the blood pressure of those who suffer with hypertension. There are radio stations that play holiday music from the day after Thanksgiving through the New Year. Dial up a station and enjoy.
Pledges and resolutions
The holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, are a time famous for the making of New Year’s resolutions. Even if you are feeling too overwhelmed with the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, and caring for your loved one’s needs to give any thought to this annual ritual, you can still commit yourself in the new year to carving out 30 minutes each day for you. Put on your headset and listen to soothing music; hop on the treadmill for 20 minutes; drink a quiet cup of tea; read a chapter in a book—whatever it is, have it be unrelated to all the things that are happening in your life right now.
As I read over my own posting here, I too am going to try to commit—no, I am going to commit—to carving out 30 minutes for me each day so that I can re-energize, get physically healthier, and take some time for reflection.
And remember the children
In closing, I would like to recommend to you that, if at all possible, attend some event this season that involves young children. When my daughter was an infant and toddler, I had a poster in her room that said, "See as a child sees—the joy, the wonder, the hope." I hope you have the opportunity to recapture some of that feeling for yourselves this holiday season.