Iryna Ishchenko

DECEMBER 19, 2023

Ep#36: What if you don't want to bring your parents with dementia over for the holidays?

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The holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness for many families. However, when caring for a parent with dementia who resides in a specialized facility, the decision of whether to bring them over for holiday gatherings can be complex and emotionally taxing. As a caregiver, it’s natural to feel torn between wanting to include your elder in the festivities and also considering the practical challenges and emotional toll it may take. In this blog post, we will delve into the various aspects of this decision-making process and explore ways to navigate it with compassion and clarity.

Understanding the Emotional Complexity:

Caregivers often grapple with conflicting emotions when considering bringing their parent with dementia over for holiday events. The innate desire to belong to a group and be accepted by the family can create intense feelings of guilt and fear of disappointing either the elders or the rest of the family. This primal need for belonging and the fear of upsetting the authority figures, particularly the parents, are deeply ingrained in human psychology. It’s important for caregivers to recognize that these emotions are a normal part of the caregiving journey and to approach this decision with self-compassion.

Considering the Elder’s Perspective:

When contemplating whether to bring a family member with dementia to holiday gatherings, it’s essential to consider their perspective. The elder’s reaction to not being present at the celebration can vary widely. They may feel upset about missing the event, or they could be relieved to avoid the potential stress and exhaustion of a trip. In some cases, individuals with dementia may already be living in their own reality and may not be aware of the holidays, alleviating the concern of disappointment. Considering these factors can help caregivers gain insight into the potential impact on their loved one and make a more informed decision.

Assessing the Costs:

Caregivers are urged to evaluate the true cost of bringing their parent with dementia over for the holidays. This assessment extends beyond monetary considerations and delves into the emotional, physical, and mental toll it may take. It’s crucial to reflect on the impact on one’s own well-being, the potential for stress and exhaustion, and the strain on relationships within the family. By weighing these costs, caregivers can gain clarity on the potential consequences of their decision and how it may affect their overall quality of life during the holiday season.

Making Informed Decisions:

After considering the emotional complexity, the elder’s perspective, and the costs involved, caregivers are encouraged to make informed and empowered decisions regarding holiday gatherings. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and each family’s situation is unique. Whether opting to include the elder or celebrate separately, it’s crucial to approach the decision with self-assurance and understanding. Caregivers are reminded that their decision does not diminish their worth as compassionate caregivers.

Communicating with Compassion:

When choosing not to bring a family member with dementia over for holiday events, it’s important to communicate the decision with empathy and clarity. Keeping the focus on what will happen, when the visit will occur, and who will be involved can help maintain a sense of inclusion and connection. It’s also crucial to remind oneself that it’s okay not to fix everything and to prioritize actions that can be done comfortably, without resentment and drain.

Navigating the decision of whether to bring parents with dementia over for the holidays requires a delicate balance of emotions, considerations, and compassionate communication. Caregivers are encouraged to approach this decision with self-compassion and to make choices that prioritize their well-being and the well-being of their loved ones. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong decision, and each caregiver must navigate this journey in a way that aligns with their values and capacity for caregiving. The holiday season should be a time of warmth and joy, and by making thoughtful decisions, caregivers can ensure that it remains a positive and meaningful time for all involved.

Hi, I am Iryna

If you are taking care of your aging parents with dementia there is no person better than me to stop feeling guilty and get your life back

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