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Our Caregiver's e-Mall is filling up with great stores and a growing number of items just in time for the holidays. Whether you browse and find a book or tape to help you with caregiving, or come across a wonderful gift for a friend or family member, the e-Mall can be your source for easy shopping and gift-giving.

So, click on the dark blue Caregiver's e-Mall buttons throughout our site and enter a comfortable, secure shopping experience with major merchants while avoiding the hassle of having to find a parking place or matching your shopping hours with someone else's. Our mall is just a click away and is open 24 hours every day.

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Posted: November 13, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

Caregiver Tips for Relieving Holiday Stress

Bill Andrew

 As the holiday season approaches, I thought that it might be appropriate to research some tips that would reduce anxiety and stave off both mental and physical problems associated with caregiving which so frequently happen during this time of the year. 

Family caregiving is a hard job during so-called "normal" times of the year -- but during the holidays, everything seems much harder for both the loved one and the family caregiver.  I know -- I spent 14 years as the 24/7 family caregiver for my wife, Carol, who died this past June.  This column is directed at current family caregivers; my next column will focus on former family caregivers with emphasis on the Christmas holidays. 

According to the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), more than 50 million people just like you provide home care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend each year.  Family caregivers provide some 80% of all long-term home care services which is conservatively valued at more than $350 billion a year -- more than twice the amount spent on paid home care and nursing home services combined! 

Unselfish and unpaid, family caregivers are at risk on a daily basis for their own personal health and well-being.  Usually, family caregivers underestimate how difficult this experience can be.  Because of strong emotional ties to their loved one, they don't see at first what they are getting into.  On the other hand, they also don't anticipate the satisfaction they can get from caring for a loved one -- I know that I did. 

A family caregiver's attitude and outlook can affect their levels of anxiety and stress – and, consequently, impact the quality of care they’re giving.  Studies have found that caregivers' self-esteem and stress were strong predictors of the caregivers' quality of life.  Interestingly, male caregivers were more likely than female caregivers to view the family caregiving experience from a positive perspective -- that is, boosting their self-esteem. 

The level of stress that a family caregiver experiences depends upon a number of factors including (a) the loved one's illness or disability, (b) a caregiver's support system, (c) the quality of the relationship with the loved one, (d) available financial resources, and (e) other factors. 

The following suggestions may help you maintain your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health during the hectic and stressful holidays ahead of us: 

  1. Give yourself credit.  It is important to recognize your accomplishments during each and every day.  This can mean taking five minutes at bed time to recount all that you did during the day, or it can be positive affirmation after each activity.
  2. Maintain your physical health.  Staying healthy by eating right, exercising, and taking care of routine medical matters actually helps you cope better with the stresses of caregiving.  Often caregivers skip their own medical appointments, thinking that the loved one comes first.
  3. Take a break.  It is important to schedule time away from your caregiver activity each and every day.  This may be a five-minute break each hour or a short break whenever you need it.
  4. Maintain your social network.  It is important to stay in contact with your family and friends in order to give you an outlet for the stress that may be building inside you. 
  5. Treat yourself.  It is important to "splurge" once in awhile by reading a book, having dinner or a massage, taking a walk, going to a movie, etc. -- anything that will focus on you as the caregiver.
  6. Get support.  I cannot emphasize enough the value of a support group that not only provides an outlet for your concerns, fears, and frustrations but also provide a source of information.  My personal experience with a support group is testimony to its value to me during my "journey."
  7. Seek professional assistance.  This can be in the form of periodic respite care, adult day care, visiting nurse, home health aide, and other support.  Friends and family can also provide support.
  8. Educate yourself.  It is important to learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition.  It is also important to have a doctor you can relate to as you travel this journey.  This knowledge will reduce the many unknowns that you may encounter that can cause anxiety, fear, and stress. 

The goal of the above eight suggestions is to preclude the impact of stress on your daily life as a family caregiver -- especially during the holidays.  Stress also has the potential of impacting your ability to provide quality care for your loved one.  If you are not there to provide that care, who will be? 

I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you travel your caregiving journey during this holiday season.  Please e-mail me at with your comments and/or reactions.  I will include them in a future column with your permission.  Please provide your full name and address.  In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state.  Thank you. 


"If you ask me what is the single most important key to longevity,

I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension.

And if you didn't ask me, I would still have to say it."

 George Burns (1896-1996)

Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at

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© 2008 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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