Create Person-Centered Holidays: What Works Best for You?

By Frances Shani Parker, author of Hospice and Nursing Home Blog

Through the years, holidays often become associated with particular traditions that may include familiar people, places, rituals, foods, music, and more. It is easy to internalize that if all or most of these components are not present, then your holidays are lacking, not whole, certainly not person-centered. These feelings can lead to depression, helplessness about too many of your needs not being met.

Particularly troubling for some may be the adjustment to holiday customs after loved ones have died. In cases where memories remind you of traditions that are difficult to do without deceased loved ones, you may want to consider other ways you can better embrace the holidays. One option is to create new holiday practices. If holidays were celebrated as a family, new traditions can be planned as a family with input open to everyone. This will present opportunities to discuss feelings about the deceased and possibly include activities in the new traditions that commemorate the deceased in an uplifting manner. One example could be a memorial that adds pleasure to holidays in the future.

If you are a caregiver, be sure to consider your own needs in addition to your patient's needs. With a focus on the positive, you can create a workable plan to have holidays as stress-free as possible. This can be done by including the essentials of what you hope to accomplish and eliminating activities that add more worry and that are not really needed. You should encourage assistance from others and be mindful of balance in your own life. AARP suggests 10 holiday tips especially for caregivers.

Whatever situations the holidays bring, there is no one way of participation for everyone. There are different ways that work well for different people. Your choices should be respected and not judged negatively because they are not considered the norm. For those of you who find the holidays stressful, phony, or too commercial, you may want to redirect your holiday focus and participate in ways that are calmer and more meaningful to you. One example could be volunteering at places where you can be helpful to others.You may want to celebrate alone or socialize with one or two friends. Another choice could be taking a trip to a location you love or want to experience for the first time.

Whether celebrating the holidays alone, with others, or not at all, you should follow your heart with efforts to meet your own needs within the framework of your particular situation. Person-centered holidays can include activities that may or may not have anything to do with the holidays at all, but everything to do with your own quality of life. 

Reprinted with permission
 

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