Caring for Family Members Around the Holidays
With family coming into town, different work schedules, decorations around the house, and other changes to the normal daily routine, the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. For individuals with developmental disabilities, who rely on routine and schedules to successfully navigate their daily lives, the disruption of the holiday season can have an extremely negative impact.
But the holidays don’t have to be hard for individuals with IDD and their families. With a little effort and special attention to details, families can create a supportive and inclusive experience for everyone. Hands of Heartland, a mental health care services provider in Omaha, would like to share some great ways to approach the holiday so that all family members have a positive experience.
Loop Everyone In On What to Expect
While you might be used to living with your family member who has an IDD, extended family and guests are not. It’s important before everyone arrives or visits during the holidays that they are aware of your family member’s condition, any limitations the disability might cause, and any behaviors guest can expect. It’s also vital to give your family member as much information ahead of time as they are able to process so they can themselves be prepared for new faces.
Include Them in the Planning
By including your loved one as part of the planning and preparation process for holiday events, you’re reintroducing the necessary level of structure and routine back into a situation full of changes. As part of this process, you should include a schedule of events for any gatherings or parties, and give them a task to perform so that they feel like they’re contributing.
Tis the Season for Music and Giving
Letting family members with IDD participate in the gift giving process and prepare for the season with the occasional holiday carol playing in the background prepares them mentally for the season and adds a level of anticipation and excitement for gatherings, taking some of the stress out of the situation.
Baking and Crafts
Home-made baked goods and do-it-yourself decorations are fantastic opportunities to involve your loved ones in the preparations and immerse yourself in the spirit of the season at the same time. These activities provide tactile stimulation, help build confidence, and are great ways for them to have a story to share with guests and extended family during gatherings.
Plan for Fun, Prepare for Anything
All the planning and all of the preparation in the world can’t prevent a possible outburst or incidence where your family member feels overwhelmed. The best thing you can do is to remain calm, and don’t over-schedule events for your loved one. If you’re hosting an event, have a quiet space set aside in the house where they can go and decompress. If you’re going to be the one traveling, try to bring multiple cars in case they need to leave, so everyone can have the best holiday experience possible. .
Holidays are for Celebrating Together
While there might be some additional challenges and obstacles to overcome, it’s important to remember that the holidays are a time for families to come together and celebrate. At Hands of Heartland, we ensure all of our programs are built around strong mental care services standards and community inclusion. We want to make sure the members of your family with an IDD or other disability have the opportunity to contribute to the festivities, and invite you and your loved ones to participate in any of our community programs as a way to help pave the way for the festivities in the months to come.