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Tis the season to be stressed out—and perhaps no one feels this more than a caregiver. How do you keep the holidays merry and bright when the added obligations of this time of year leave you feeling even more overwhelmed than usual?
For Amy Gallagher, the answer is perspective. Amy’s mother, Nancy, started to decline two years ago. Nancy was in and out of the hospital so frequently that Amy lost her job due to excessive absences. “Losing my job was hard, but it allowed me to spend more time with my mom,” says Amy.
Another important realization for Amy was that “being a caregiver is not a forever situation.” Out of Nancy’s declining health, there sprouted new traditions. “I saw my mother deteriorating and I’d almost be angry with her for not trying harder,” says Amy, “but there were so many things she wanted to do and couldn’t. My mother always made the meal on Christmas Eve, but last year she didn’t have the strength. She sat in the kitchen and ‘directed’ me, telling me how to make the dishes, and in this way, she was still a part of the meal preparation. In essence, she was handing over a holiday tradition.”
Recognizing her mother’s limits also helped Amy to manage her stress. “As an occupational therapist, I knew what I needed to do to help my mother, but so much was out of my control. I did what I could to help her remain independent and happy. Eventually though, I realized that her happiness wasn’t up to me—if she didn’t want to be happy, she just wasn’t going to be! Instead, I tried to make her comfortable. I did my best, and I have no regrets."
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.