Supporting caregivers and reducing isolation during the holiday seasonDecember 21, 20182 min read
Caregivers provide substantial support to older people where needed, yet are chronically under-recognized.
According to the Washington Post, there are forty million family caregivers in the United States who provide assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom.
The holiday season is a time for families to come together, enjoy one another’s company and reflect on the year gone by. Yet, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, for family caregivers the holidays can also be challenging, filled with overwhelming expectations, logistical issues, and changes to routine that can be difficult to navigate.
On top of these challenges, this season can also intensify caregiver isolation, as programs shut down for long stretches of time, and outside supports retreat to observe their own traditions elsewhere. Dr Anne Martin-Matthews is an IFA expert that specializes in caregiving and can offer input on how to reduce caregiver isolation over the holidays.
Still, the holidays can also be an opportunity to show support for someone providing care to an older person. According to an AARP poll asking caregivers about help during the holidays, “Almost eight in 10 said it would be helpful to have someone to talk with who understands, 73 percent would like help with holiday tasks, and 72 percent would like help with holiday meals.”
While important, keeping up traditions may become arduous when caring for a loved one. Adapting traditions to suit the needs of both caregivers and care-recipients can help. According to Forbes, support from others, time for self-care, and managing expectations – being selective about which parties to attend, for example – can help ease the stress of the holiday season.
This holiday season recognize those people in your life who may need a little extra support, and instead of waiting until they ask for help, offer it instead. Not having to ask can make an enormous difference to caregivers, especially at times when they can feel especially isolated.
Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews Professor, Ageing and Lifecourse
Anne Martin-Matthews' current research focuses on two areas of inquiry in the sociology of aging.