Holiday gatherings can be fun, but are often stressful for family caregivers and for the older family members they care for. Family caregivers can briefly shift some of the caregiving responsibilities to other family members, especially during gatherings.
Older family members can feel isolated during family gatherings. Include them in the festivities asking them about their life story. Learning more about the family elders can be special for everyone and gives caregivers a break from constantly overseeing the care receiver.
Ancestry.com provides a list of questions to start the conversation.List of Questions
As grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts talk about their lives, family from other generations understand their family in different ways. They also learn about history through the lives of their family elders.
Suggestions for a meaningful “interview”:
- Download and look through the list of questions and find three to five to ask.
- Be careful not to overwhelm them with too many questions or ask for too many details.
- Avoid questions which may have painful memories of loss or the death of a loved one.
- Remember that someone with dementia may have intact memories about the past even though they struggle with recent memories.
- Make this a fun activity, involving others to listen in to learn more about their older family member and prompt their own questions to ask.
- The experience is even more meaningful when the stories that emerge link the generations.
For example, “Your brother John sounds so much like Andrew (their great grandson) who likes adventure and a bit of mischief. Can you tell us about one of your adventures with John?”
- Remember to take a break and maybe come back for more conversation. Caregivers usually know when their loved one needs a break or to end the conversation gracefully.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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