Caring for the Caregiver: Family Caregiving During the Holidays

Family caregiving can be stressful during the best of times. Holidays can prove to be especially challenging for even the most stalwart of caregivers. And unlike decorating, shopping and wrapping, caregiving doesn’t afford the ability to step back at a point and say, “Well, at least that’s done!”

During holidays especially, there’s the added stress of juggling more activities and undertakings than usual. As family and friends find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of their own holiday activities, the family caregiver may feel more isolated in their responsibilities.

If you feel the burden is too much, now is the time to bring it up and discuss it with other family members. They may not realize just how much work goes into the care of a senior loved one. The trick is—how does one do that in a non-judgemental, nonconfrontational way?

Our friends at Lotsa Helping Hands are offering a free webinar –Caregiving During the Holidays– on Thursday December 15 at 2 pm EDT.

As you gather to celebrate with your family this holiday season, it is the perfect opportunity to sit down and have conversations about caregiving for aging parents or other loved ones—whether you have already started your caregiving journey or will be in the future. The webinar will be especially focused on “caregiving conversation starters.” This is a great opportunity to learn ideas for holiday caregiving and planning ahead as well as useful tips and features of Lotsa Helping Hands. You can register at

This may also be the time to bring up the possibility of hiring respite care from a quality senior home care agency. Most family caregivers spend 20-40 hours per week caring for their loved ones. The holidays are a perfect time to gift yourself or someone you love with much-needed help.

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Knitting Brings Healthy Activity to Seniors and Caregivers

Knitting has become the new yoga - the health benefits of knitting and crocheting are many and because of the internet's easy access to instructions and patterns and yarns, the number of knitters has increased by 150%, including for those in their 20's and 30's.  Yes, Grandma's yarn has become cool to carry in fancy upholstered knitting bags and in more fibers than just merino wool.  And you can now even knit items for the summer, such as this cotton sun hat for the beach.

New studies have shown that knitting and other repetitive needle work provide a number of invaluable health benefits.  The rhythmic repetitive acts help prevent and manage stress, pain and depression which in turn strengthens the body's immune system.  Learning patterns also helps stimulate the mind which has been shown to slow memory loss that comes with aging.

Dr. Herbert Bendon, Director of the Institute for Mind, Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard medical School notes that knitting is one method to create a "relaxation response" in the body, which can lower blood pressure, heart rate and help prevent illness.  Knitting and crochet have a calming effect overall which can help manage anxiety and may even help conditions such as asthma or panic attacks.  Additionally, the repetitive movements have been shown to help manage disruptive behavior and ADHD in children.

The Knitting Ranch provides instructions for new and experienced knitters along with yarns and patterns and was founded by Suzi Brown, a Registered Nurse.  She found knitting to be both enjoyable, relaxing while stimulating her creativity to design her own shawls, hats and sweaters.  Her website brings the benefits of knitting to everyone, while also providing a peek at life on a Colorado ranch - check it out: the Knitting Ranch to find yarn, needles, lessons and more.  There are even square knitting needles now for those with arthritis.

You can also learn about other activities caregivers are sharing with their senior clients in Caregiverlist's forums, or, share a new one of your own with your caregiving peers.


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