December 2, 2019

For family caregivers, every day is a chance to make a difference in the lives of their elderly loved ones. But who is watching out for the caregivers — especially during the long, cold winter season? 

The end of the year is an excellent opportunity to reflect back on where you’ve been, and look ahead to where you’re hoping to go in the future. It is a time to come together with friends and family, give thanks, and celebrate all of the wonderful things in life. 

With that being said,  the end of the year can also be a particularly stressful time for seniors, and the caregivers who love and support them. The holiday season can be busy and emotionally draining, and the frigid winter weather can pose a serious risk to older adults, while creating new challenges for caregivers. At the same time, many caregivers will have their own bouts with illness, often alongside a busy to-do list which may include traveling, shopping, and working overtime. 

The end of the year is a moment when stress levels run high, and exhaustion is commonplace. This is particularly true for family caregivers, who are at an increased risk of suffering from stress, anxiety, and burnout, according to a growing body of research. 

This winter, why not try setting a resolution to devote time to yourself, as well as to the other important people in your life? The winter months can be cold, gloomy, and busy — all the more reason to build in plenty of time to let yourself rest, recharge, and come back to your responsibilities feeling refreshed and ready for anything. 

This winter, family caregivers deserve a break. However, we know that when you devote most of your time to caring for others, caring for yourself is often more easily said than done

Looking for some seasonal inspiration? Here are five ways that family caregivers can recharge their batteries during the frosty winter months: 

Embrace All That Winter Has to Offer

Getting out in nature can be a transformative and renewing experience — even in the winter months! Soak up as much sunlight as possible and find ways to go outside for some fresh air and a little bit of adventure. Some ideas for making the most of the winter weather might include: 

  • Making a snow fort or snowman 
  • Going for nature walks or hikes
  • Going skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing 
  • Birdwatching 
  • Finding a local ice skating rink 
  • Building a bonfire in an outdoor fire pit 
  • Practicing your nature photography skills
  • Walking the dog 
  • Taking care of outdoor projects, like winterizing the garden or sealing windows and doors 

Whenever you do go outside, remember to put safety first! Dress in warm, waterproof layers; wear boots or shoes appropriate for the weather; apply sunscreen; and take steps to stay hydrated. Be sure to look at weather conditions before you go out, so that you’re not blindsided by a winter storm or cold spell. 

Cozy Up In the Great Indoors

When you’re feeling stressed or pressured, take some time to retreat to your indoor oasis. There are plenty of ways to relax and recharge indoors, without having to brave the elements on a particularly cold or blustery day. There’s really no limit to the fun you can get up to during the wintertime! Some relaxing, rejuvenating indoor ideas for caregivers might include: 

  • Working on an art project, such as painting, quilting, or crafting 
  • Reading a good book 
  • Watching a favorite movie or TV show 
  • Cooking a wholesome, nutritious meal 
  • Making warm herbal tea 
  • Taking care of houseplants, or an indoor garden 
  • Building blanket forts with the kids 
  • Practicing yoga, tai chi, or pilates 
  • Finding time to meditate 
  • Working out with weights, a treadmill, or a stationary bike
  • Looking through photo albums or home movies 

If the winter weather has you feeling down, you may also want to look into some practices that can help you refresh your living space. There are specialized lights designed to help boost your mood during the winter months, for instance. Similarly, you might consider looking into bringing in fresh candles and essential oils, for a little bit of wholesome aromatherapy. Even the smallest changes can have a big impact — so feel free to break out your fluffiest robe, spread out your coziest blanket, and turn up your favorite song on the speakers. 

Make Time for Doctor’s Appointments and Checkups

According to a study from Embracing Carers, 45% of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. say that they don’t have time to book or attend their own medical appointments, and 43% say that they routinely place the health of the person they’re caring for above their own.

This winter, bring your year to a healthy close and start the next 12 months on the right foot by making time to schedule doctor’s appointments for yourself. Whether you’re feeling ready to start talking to a therapist, need a routine medical checkup, or want to consult with an expert over any practical concerns you might have, this time of year is a great opportunity to prioritize your own health and well-being. In addition to seeing your healthcare team, you may also want to start looking into ways to adopt healthier habits in the new year, such as making time for exercising, getting organized, eating better, and taking steps to get a good night’s sleep. 

Remember: you deserve to be your healthiest, best self. What’s more, your loved ones want you to be relaxed, happy, and healthy. Not only is taking care of your body and mind incredibly important for your own health and happiness, but taking these actions can also help you return to caregiving with more love and attention to give, whenever you’re ready. 

Enjoy Quality Time With Family and Friends

Remaining socially active is incredibly important for seniors’ health, well-being, and longevity — and it’s also a key health consideration for family caregivers. It’s easy to feel cooped up and isolated during the long, dark winter. You may feel healthier, happier, and more fulfilled if you get proactive about spending time with others. This winter, family caregivers may want to try: 

  • Hosting a potluck for family, friends, and neighbors
  • Throwing a holiday celebration
  • Delivering baked goods or holiday greetings to neighbors in person 
  • Planning a trip to get away with family 
  • Using the phone, Skype, or email to stay connected to long-distance relatives 
  • Exchanging cards and holiday letters with friends and family 
  • Organizing fun winter activities, like movie nights, nature walks, or a book club 

Reach Out for Help

As a family caregiver, it’s easy to keep piling responsibilities on your plate. What would happen if you stopped, looked around, and reached out for a little bit of help? 

Remember, you don’t have to go through it all alone. One of the best ways to care for your senior loved one, and give yourself a little peace of mind, is to reach out for assistance, in whatever way you can. There is no shame or embarrassment in getting help when you need it. In fact, it may just be one of the strongest and most amazing things you ever do.

This winter, reaching out might mean bringing together your network of friends and family to help support your loved one. It might mean taking advantage of meal delivery, laundry pick-up, and other handy services in your area. 

For many households, companion care is the answer. With an in-home companion, you can rest easy, knowing that your senior has a friendly face ready to step in and provide support whenever they need it. Offering flexible hours and a useful variety of skills, a professional companion can assist your loved one in multiple ways, including:

Companions for Seniors Is Here to Help

Ready to make time for yourself this holiday season? Do you have a loved one who might benefit from a professional in-home companion or caregiver? Companions for Seniors is here and ready to help!

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home, while giving family caregivers the chance to relax and recharge. We’re locally owned in the Chicago area, with clients in the city and suburbs.

Want to get the conversation going? We’d love to hear from you! Reach out online using our handy contact form, or give us a call at a call at 866-910-9020 today.