Holiday Preparations

Christmas is a wonderful time of year but it takes a lot of planning for caregivers to enjoy

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Holiday Preparations

Getting ready for the holidays at my house incorporates specific considerations that many families who do not deal with chronic illnesses do not consider as part of their preplanning task list.  Since most of you readers have similar concerns, you probably know where I’m going. For new caregivers just starting to deal with the holiday season, here are some preparations I do to help the gathering go as well as possible.

Location, Location, Location

My family has one person (my spouse) who uses a power wheelchair full-time, another person who uses a rollator, and two grandchildren who may or may not need a wheelchair or walker the day of the celebration based on strength that day.  My home is best equipped to deal with all the medical equipment needs. Therefore, we meet at my house due to the convenience of the wheelchair ramp, accessible bathroom, ceiling lift, wide hallways, and doorways without doors which allow easy access for wheelchairs.  

Another positive feature is a large porch for guests to access using a ramp. Many need to go outside to cool off periodically due to not being able to regulate body temperatures. We also provide blankets for those who get, cold too.

Special Dietary Restrictions

We usually don’t gather for meals due to the number of food restrictions in the family.  If we do meet at mealtime, families with special needs bring their own and I supply the plates and utensils.  When we do serve food, we must keep in mind that our two autistic children can’t tolerate certain textures, flavors, and smells.  Other members have food allergies which we avoid. Therefore, our menu often has duplicate options (such as white and sweet potatoes). In addition, when mealtime comes, we provide a variety of eating utensils and assistive eating devices along with additional helping hands to feed and intervene when help is needed.  

Who has Been Sick or Exposed to Illness?

Two of my family have conditions that make them very venerable to communicable disease.  Even exposure to a simple cold can put them into the hospital. Therefore, we check with family members who work in public areas or have children in school to determine if they have been sick recently or exposed to anyone ill.  Based on their response, we assess the level of exposure risk and decide what precautions are necessary. Sometimes nothing is required, other times a mask, and in the worst case, visits are prohibited.

The Day of the Gathering

If we all attend, there are twenty of us in attendance. Of that number, eight have special needs related to chronic health conditions. We are very familiar with making accommodations and adapting at a moment’s notice. Having a question such as, “Does someone have an oxygen rebreather?” isn’t a showstopper for us.   No problem, we poll the group, find out who has one (usually someone has) and get them to bring it.  If not, then we’ll keep tabs on O2 levels to make sure the person’s okay. 

Two of our family are nurses (including me), and one is an EMT with the local rescue squad.  Each of us watches the others for signs of distress.  We know what to do and take responsibly for each family member’s needs regardless of “who they belong to.”  We let each other know if someone has something new and what to do if it flares. We all work together to make the event a success. We are all a team from the moment we arrive till we leave. Each is thankful for the opportunity to be together to do so.

We are thankful for our disability diversity.  All the children in our family (I have ten grandchildren) are growing up to accept those with disabilities as a normal part of life.  We talk openly to them about MS and answer their questions. They ask tough questions at times. 

I am thankful that we can talk and share answers so that we all learn how to adapt and accept difficulties together. We show them how we adjust to the changes that happen when our bodies don’t work the way they once did.  Our grandchildren get to see the impact a disability has on the life of a person who struggles with change. They understand a disability doesn’t have to stop a person from living a full life.

This article originally appeared on Multiplesclerosis.Net by Health-Union, LLC and has been reposted with permission.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Preparations”

  1. I have been waiting in anticipation of your next blog for several reasons. One, because it gives me some idea of how you are doing. Two because you have become a part of my sanity on this ms journey. Three, because you give so many helpful insights. Wishing you and Lynn the very best holiday season

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Healthcare to homecare provides information and resources to help new and experienced caregivers take on the role of healthcare provider at home.
Healthcare to homecare provides information and resources to help new and experienced caregivers take on the role of healthcare provider at home.
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Caregivers of special needs children face many challenges and overwhelming emotions. Loss of dreams, fear of the future, and much more. They need someone who understands and doesn’t judge; someone who’s been there and gets it.