Caregiving & The Holidays – A Survival Guide

by Jennifer T. Szakaly, MA, CMC

We are grateful that Jennifer Szakaly agreed to be a guest blogger for us this month.  Jennifer is a Nationally Certified Care Manager and the owner of Caregiving Corner, LLC, which provides geriatric care management and caregiver counseling services in the Charlotte metro area with offices in Lake Norman and South Park.  You can find out more at


The holidays can be a stressful time for caregivers, but also an opportunity for adult children to check-in with aging parents who live far away.

Put on your detective cap and be on the lookout for changes when you visit aging relatives this holiday season.  We recommend that you check these 4 areas when visiting older adults so that you can be aware of any changes since your last visit:

  1. House – any major wear & tear on the structure of the house? Are there big projects that need tackling, like painting or new flooring?  Is the house more of a hazard for a loved one?  Stairs can become challenging as you age, even if you’ve always had them in your house.
  1. Health – are medications organized and appointments on the calendar? Is your loved one keeping up with billing paperwork?  Have there been any noticeable health changes?
  1. Mobility – does your loved one have a harder time getting in/out of the car? Are steps more challenging to navigate?  Pay attention to throw rugs and other tripping hazards.
  1. Finances – are there piles of bills that might indicate your loved one is overwhelmed with managing this task? Do you see any late notices, or have utilities been shut off in last 6 months?  Put as many bills on auto-pay as you can to minimize the size of this task for a senior.


If you are a caregiver already caring for aging parents and are perhaps also having to entertain out-of-town family, keep these tips in mind:

Coping with Holiday Stress

  • Keep it Simple – if you are used to going to 10 holiday parties, it really is okay to trim back to the most important 1 or 2. Identify excess and eliminate it!
  • Make it Meaningful – It is easy to get caught up in the material aspects of the holiday, but try to remember that time and attention are probably the two most desired things you can share with the older adults in your life. Focus on that and both of you will be happier!
  • Care for Yourself – there is no better time for self-care than the holidays. If people offer to help you or give you a break, practice saying yes!  Carve out time during the week that is only about you and keep it on the calendar like you would any other appointment.


Additional Resources: – if you see any changes on the checklist, be sure to contact an Aging Life Care ™ Manager to see if any further action is needed  – for more tips for caregivers during the holidays, check out the blogs and articles at AARP – this could be the perfect gift for a caregiver – subscribe to their newsletter and magazine for thoughtful articles, helpful tips, and ideas from caregivers across the country.