Making New Year’s resolutions might seem too complicated to bother with for adults caring for a senior loved one. So much of a caregiver’s time is consumed by the needs of others. Committing to making positive changes in the months ahead, such as eating healthy or practicing yoga, may seem unrealistic and unattainable.
Without a doubt, family caregivers have busy, stressful days. Juggling caregiving, children, and in many cases, at least a part-time job leaves little room for “me time”. But committing to a healthier lifestyle can make you a better caregiver in the long-term.
Caregiver Resolutions for 2018
Here are five resolutions every family caregiver should consider making as the new year begins:
1. I will ask for and accept help.
Adult children, spouses and other family caregivers often feel it is their duty to care for all of an older loved one’s needs. Even if someone does offer help, caregivers are notorious for not accepting it. Make 2018 the year you accept a helping hand from friends and family members. And if no one offers that help, ask for it. Most people will be happy to pitch in, especially if you request assistance with specific tasks. If you can’t leave your senior loved one alone to run errands, for example, ask family members to make specific stops for you.
2. I will connect with peers who understand my struggle.
Talking with a friend in an open and honest way about your caregiving fears and frustrations may be difficult if they aren’t a caregiver themselves. While they might be able to offer a sympathetic ear, it isn’t the same as talking with someone who is walking a path similar to yours. In 2018, consider joining an online caregiver support group.
3. I will take breaks to care for myself on a regular basis.
Caregiving is physically and emotionally exhausting. It can cause family caregivers to experience a health crisis of their own if they fail to practice good self-care. If you don’t have anyone close to you who can fill in for you a few days a month, consider enlisting the services of a home care agency or taking advantage of short-term respite stays at a senior living community. You’ll feel better equipped–physically and emotionally—to care for your loved one if you do.
For those who can’t afford respite care, a call to the local agency on aging might be helpful. They often have resources to support low-income seniors and caregivers.
4. I will eat well and exercise in 2018.
Taking care of your own health is one of the best ways to manage the stress and fatigue associated with caregiving. Eating a balanced diet might mean setting one day a month aside to cook and freeze healthy entrees. Or by utilizing a meal delivery service in your local community or a national one like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.
Exercise can be broken down in to 10 or 15 minute work outs to make it easier to fit in your day. Consider forms of exercise you and your loved one can do together so you both reap the health rewards of working out. Walking, swimming, chair yoga, and a stationary bike are a few. The National Institute on Aging created a home fitness program for older adults you might also find helpful. Go4Life has tools and resources to support senior fitness. All are free of charge.
Caregiver Resources at Five Star Senior Living
If you haven’t done so already, bookmark Five Star’s Family Resource Center and plan to stop back often. We share new information several times a week to help family caregivers find the support they need.