Tips for a low-stress holiday season
After her lupus diagnosis, Jennifer Wasko found that some holiday activities became more difficult to handle. The Moscow, Pennsylvania, resident isn’t alone. For adults with lupus, fatigue and pain can prevent them from celebrating as they once did. But you can help family members with lupus participate in holiday activities—and have fun.
Here are tips from Jennifer, her husband, Frank Wasko, and her mother, Debbie Burke:
- Relocate the festivities. “When I was just out of the hospital one holiday season, my family brought Christmas breakfast to my house—and we opened our gifts at my house, when normally I go to their house,” Jennifer says. “They used teamwork to clean up while I was able to rest on the couch and enjoy everyone’s company.”
- Help with routine activities. Do things for your loved one before he or she needs to do it themselves, advises Frank. “For example, I vacuum Christmas tree needles before it gets too bad,” he explains. When it comes to gift shopping, Burke suggests offering to drive your loved one to the store and carry packages. You can also wrap presents and tie ribbons—especially helpful when your loved one has hand pain.
- Have fun with food prep. Consider a potluck, and also try making cooking a group activity. Just bring the ingredients so your loved one doesn’t have to shop. “Each year my family gets together, and we all make cookies,” says Jennifer. “That helps with the baking and the cleanup, and it creates memories of good times together.”
- Avoid judgment. Be understanding if your loved one declines invitations or cancels plans, Jennifer says. And remember you love each other. Burke and the Waskos say the best holiday gift you can give is turning holiday “duties” (like shopping) into fun times.
- Care for yourself. The holidays can be stressful, and your loved one isn’t the only one who may need help. Meenakshi Jolly, M.D., M.S., director of the Rush Lupus Clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, notes that romantic partners may carry the burden of being the primary caregiver. Parents of children with lupus also can feel devastated to see their kids in pain. But it’s important for caregivers to look out for their own well-being. Caregiving: What You Need to Know was designed for those who care for people with lupus—no matter their age or relationship. Download the Caregivers Toolkit.