Caregivers’ New Year resolutions for the year 2016
Everybody’s New Year’s resolutions should include giving a caregiver a hand, but even if that were the case, people would still forget about it come Jan. 1st – as they do the rest of their resolutions. In light of that, and given that caregivers are selfless all year round, it is only fair that they get to make ‘selfish’ (for want of a better word) resolutions for 2016, and get to keep them too. But which would be some examples of such resolutions? To start, they are things that you, if you’re a caregiver, should be doing anyway to make sure you’re fit to care for yourself as well as you care for others.
· Make time for yourself. You need to find the time to do things that you can actually enjoy – the things you would do if you were not caregiver but don’t do because you are one. How to make that time? The only way to stop being a caregiver for a certain period of time – whether it is a couple of hours or long enough to go on vacation. Respite care allows you to do this while the person you care for remains in good hands.
· If just thinking about the above makes you feel guilty, don’t. You need, deserve, and let’s face it, want a reprieve, however temporary, from your caregiving duties.
· Research available local resources, for instance adult day programs, in-home assistance, companions, and meal delivery.
· If those services aren’t available in your community – and even if they are – ask your friends and relatives for help whenever you need it. In fact, and as hinted above, demand that your family and friends make a New Year’s resolution out of helping you (and hold them to it).
· In order to make asking for help easier, ask people to help out in specific ways; e.g. cooking a meal, grocery shopping, yard work, and either visiting or taking the care receiver out for a while. Pick the best time to ask.
· Learn more about the care receiver’s condition. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease goes through different stages as the condition progresses; each stage requires the caregiver to possess new knowledge to enable them to do their job appropriately.
· Join a support group. Sharing your situation with others who are going through something similar is at the very least a relief, and at best can provide you with new tools to manage your loved one. If necessary, seek counseling with a counselor, friend, or religious figure.
· Cope with stress. Caregiver stress is a very real and serious condition. Learn about it and about its symptoms and ask your doctor how to prevent and deal with it. Learn and practice stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates.
· Watch your physical and mental health. Take frequent breaks, spend quality time with friends and relatives, work out as often as you can, get a hobby, keep your doctor’s appointments, eat and sleep well (if you can’t get proper rest at night, try taking daytime naps).
· Make healthcare, legal and financial arrangements, including advance directives, living will, durable power of attorney, living trust, etc. This is last on this list but it is without a doubt what you should take care of first, seeing as how your sick/aging loved one’s input is a must – these are decisions he or she must make while they still have the wherewithal to make them.
Related: What is Respite Care for Caregivers?