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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Feelings of Isolation During the Holidays Common in the Caregiving World

Caregivers and those whom they assist often cope with feelings of isolation, and during the holidays this may be accentuated. The family-oriented activities, shopping and spending, and rounds of festivities are enjoyed by those who are fortunate to have family, finances, and health. But there is another side to the holidays, for those who are struggling with caring, health, money problems, stress and exhaustion.

Being left out of the ideals of holiday cheer adds to the sensation of isolation for those who cannot participate. After Thanksgiving I visited with a caregiver in her 60's, with health problems of her own, who takes care of her mother who has Alzheimer's.

For a Thanksgiving treat they went out for a special meal at a local Denny's restaurant, part of a casual restaurant chain we have in California, since it was just the two of them. She said the waitess assumed they must be traveling or on their way to festivities. The waitress took their order and said, "And what do you have planned for Thanksgiving?" My friend said she smiled and replied, "This is it."

Those who have suffered an illness recently or a bereavement can find coping with the expected holiday cheer to be a challenge. A goal of a feeling of inner peace might be more realistic in these situations.

Are the holidays a giant spending spree? Or a giant eating binge?

For me and many others, focusing on a time of peace and serenity, and closeness to spirituality is the real meaning of Christmas.

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