Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY

Q: Being a caregiver during the holidays is extra hard. How can I keep up?

A: Ah, the holidays. Friends and families get together to celebrate, and everyone always seems so HAPPY. It’s a season of joy and merriment, but caregivers know the going is tough. We are surrounded by images of holiday perfection, like the over-decorated celebrations featured in every Hallmark movie! Today’s blended families may look a bit different from those of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. But one thing hasn’t changed: families are comprised of several different generations, often under the same roof. And for family caregivers, the various health problems and care needs of elderly family members can add to the complexity of bringing everyone together for the holidays– especially if you’re trying to maintain every tradition or aspiring to Hallmark style.

For the exhausted caregiver, just going to the grocery store and saying, “Happy holidays” takes a tremendous amount of energy. Every task becomes an effort and before long, you feel like you missed out on the holidays because you were so busy making everyone else happy. Am I right?

The countless needs of growing children and aging adults can leave little time for the caregiver to think of themselves. If you are a member of the “sandwich generation,” you know this dilemma well. Prioritizing your own health and enjoyment winds up feeling like just another task, so we knock it to the bottom of the to-do list and keep doing for others.


This holiday season…

Reset the computer in your head. Sure, reminisce about the past, but avoid comparing one year to another. Take heart in this moment.

Watch a silly holiday movie. Laughter is therapeutic! It increases your intake of oxygen, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins released by your brain. 

Be thankful. We all need to accept where we are in life. And be grateful for what we have.

Communicate with loved ones. Tell the family you are feeling more stressed this year because you are taking care of grandma (they won’t be surprised). Ask them to pitch in with preparations — it makes family events just that.

Simplify your plans. Stop and remember what the holidays are all about: Not the extent of the decorations, or the gifts you bought or received, but the time spent with the people you love. All the different generations around your table. I hope this holiday season is one you will remember for years. Because none of us know how many more we will have.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place in Viera.