You treasure the time you get to spend with your extended family during the holidays. However, you wish it did not leave you feeling exhausted and longing for January. You can have the best of both worlds. You can participate in the festivities and carve out some boundaries to preserve your health, happiness, and money. Here are suggestions on how seniors can reduce stress during the holidays.
How to Avoid Financial Stress
Holiday gift-giving almost feels like a reverse pyramid scheme. The person at the top buys presents for the sons and daughters, their spouses and their kids. When gift-giving feels like an unappreciated chore, sit down and re-think it. If you are spending a hefty sum selecting the perfect gifts for everyone and they ask for gift receipts, so they can take them back and get the cash, they have lost the meaning of presents.
Instead of spending all that money, consider making gifts this year. If you have a signature item for which you are known, like jams or photographs, give those instead of store-bought items. Make a donation in the names of your loved ones to an organization that helps people in dire poverty around the world. Whatever you do, set a reasonable gift budget and stick to it.
Claim Your Downtime
You are retired. You worked hard for decades rearing this family. You deserve plenty of rest and some time to yourself. Before the holidays, talk with a member or two of the family and set blocks of time for you to do whatever you want. If events will go late into the night, get time to rest earlier in the day.
Being sleep-deprived and having to be joined at the hip 24/7 with grandchildren does not make for happy holidays. One of the best things about grandchildren is getting to visit them and then getting your own space again. Every holiday gathering should set up a “quiet room” for people who want to get away from the noise and chaos.
Respect Your Mobility Issues
Sometimes the person who plans family holiday events fails to consider logistical issues. It might not occur to him that an 82-year-old who has had two knee replacements, might not want to undertake a 12-mile hike up the side of a mountain in 20-degree weather at dawn.
If your family makes ambitious plans like this, talk with them about alternative activities, so everyone has a choice of things to do. Do not let people bully you into participating in an inappropriate or undesired event. Spending the holidays in the hospital from a fall, does not make for happy times.
You might have a favorite holiday food you cannot enjoy now, because of medication interactions, a change in rich or spicy food your stomach can tolerate, or challenges with chewing or swallowing food. Rather than addressing these issues at the crowded dinner table with 20 of your closest relatives, talk well in advance with the person hosting the event to make sure she knows of these concerns and can plan.
For many people, the holidays bring both happy and sad memories of the past. Expect to feel down during the first festive season following a loved one’s death, and honor those feelings. Set aside a few minutes in remembrance of the person you are missing, and then move on to happier events. You will get through this experience by having realistic expectations and allowing yourself to grieve and to be happy.
Following these tips can help you to enjoy the holidays on your terms and with less stress. The laws differ from one state to the next, so talk with an elder law attorney about how your state varies from the general law covered in this article.
CBS. “Help Seniors Avoid Holiday Stress.” (accessed October 19, 2018) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/help-seniors-avoid-holiday-stress/
Caregiver Stress. “Help Seniors Overcome Holiday Stress: 4 Tips.” (accessed October 19, 2018) https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/relief-tips/help-seniors-overcome-holiday-stress-4-tips/