This year, give yourself the gift of a week filled with fun and relaxation by taking a Christmas Staycation. It’s the perfect way for you and your loved one to truly enjoy all the holiday season has to offer. Keep in mind this will require some pre-planning and a commitment on your part to make it all happen, but it’s worth it.
Staycations became popular a number of years back due to the economy. Many families were simply not financially able to take a traditional vacation. They opted to stay home, enjoy local attractions, dine out, and focus on just family time.
For most families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, a staycation can be a better alternative than taking a traditional vacation away from the familiar home. Everyone sleeps in their own bed, in their own room. There is less tension or anxiety than with traveling, as you avoid packing, long drives, crowded airports, and a lot of time waiting everywhere.
First, make a commitment for family time only….NO cooking, cleaning or laundry. Some families give up emails, the news and making the bed. If it’s not fun- or necessary- don’t do it. Just pretend you’re out of town!
Second, start planning ahead for meals for that week. Realistically, going out for all meals is probably not an option for anyone. However, try to plan on dining out more than usual or having food delivered. Pizza, deli meals or Chinese food can be a nice treat for lunch or dinner. Also, think about cooking and freezing some meals ahead of time or purchasing prepared meals from places such as Central Market, Whole Foods or local restaurants.
Third, schedule specific outing and activities to create an enjoyable week for both you and your loved one. This is easier than you might think, especially since you are going to be doing these things together. It’s different than trying to find something they will do on their own while you do something else around the house. Try some new things or even revisit old ideas that perhaps they were not previously interested in at the time. Sometimes there is renewed interest simply because you are doing it with them. As a caregiver, I know firsthand that when I am focused only on having a great time with my Dad, we always have fun. But, if I’m trying to cook or take care of a hundred chores when we’re together, it becomes very stressful and not as much fun for either one of us.
To ensure success, modify activities to fit their abilities. Keep in mind that you don’t have to follow all the rules or even keep score to delight in a game of dominoes, cards or even scrabble. Try playing some games as partners so there is no “winner”. Simply succeed together. Jigsaw puzzles with only 100 pieces, spelling bees, making words-from-a-word, DVD game shows- these are all great activities for a couple or the entire family.
Enjoy music each and every day. Spend more time listening to Christmas songs, old favorite songs or dancing to your favorite tunes in the living room. And, what better way to enjoy a classic Christmas movie than sitting together on the sofa, sharing a bowl of popcorn? With a rented movie you can schedule 10 minute intermissions every 30 minutes or so. Since most people with AD can only stay focused for about that long, it will be more enjoyable for both of you.
The holiday season offers an abundance of choices for community outings. You might want to attend Christmas concerts at local churches, stroll through the holiday decorations at North Park or other local malls, visit the Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas Museum of Art, Perot Museum of Science and Nature, the Dallas World Aquarium…..or just take an evening drive to see the holiday lights and displays.
Planning your first staycation is always going to be the hardest one. But, don’t hesitate to visit with the FP staff for other helpful hints, tips and suggestions to ensure a successful and rewarding experience.
Remember Gumby’s Beatitude for Caregivers;
Blessed are those that are flexible,
for they shall not be bent out of shape.
Discover simple joys together.
Once you start planning your very own Christmas Staycation, you’ll soon discover that the possibilities during the holidays for fun and relaxation at home are endless. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and holiday season filled with love and peace.