As the calendar moves into January, it’s common to think about New Year’s resolutions. If you’re a family caregiver who’s looking after an aging in place senior, making a list of caregiving resolutions can help you more efficiently balance your responsibilities with a household, spouse, children and job. But enjoying a higher quality of life as the new year plays out isn’t just about perfection, it’s more important to “keep it real” while setting caregiving goals and expectations. Here are some realistic New Year’s resolutions to consider as the new year unfolds.
Challenges Informal Caregivers Face
No matter how hard you try as an informal caregiver, you can’t predict the future. What you can count on is experiencing a series of highs and lows throughout the year based on your loved one’s condition and these other factors:
- Physical – The physical demands of caregiving can take a toll on your body. Many family caregivers also don’t sleep enough every day, which exacerbates any physical problems they’re already dealing with.
- Emotional – Caregivers oftentimes battle negative feelings like depression, anxiety, guilt and frustration that lower self-esteem and affect their mental health.
- Financial – The typical family caregiver misses up to 2 weeks of work each year dealing with caregiving-related emergencies. Many also end up spending a lot of their own money on caregiving expenses in the process.
- Time – According to a join report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, roughly one-third of all caregivers in the United States invest 60+ hours per week caring for an aging family member.
- Social – Because of the commitment that’s involved, many caregivers run the risk for social isolation.
Now that you know what you’re up against as a caregiver, it’s time to set some realistic New Year’s caregiving resolutions so that you’ll stay refreshed and recharged as the days go by.
Follow These Caregiving Resolutions
If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, or has a hard time following them for more than a few weeks, call them “promises” to yourself instead. Either way, here are some reliable ways to stay healthier and happier as a caregiver all year long:
Take Care of Yourself
Many caregivers invest so much time and energy in the care of their loved one that they neglect their own health. Promise yourself that won’t happen by committing to:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating nutritious foods
- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day
- Spending quality time every week with friends and family
- Not abusing drugs or alcohol
- Scheduling routine medical, dental and eye exam checkups
- Rewarding yourself every month with a spa day, date night, etc.
Express Your Feelings to Others
Negative emotions that can lower a caregiver’s quality of life include anger, anxiety, guilt, depression, loneliness and frustration. Make an honest commitment to not let those negative emotions stay bottled up inside. Instead, share them with someone like:
- Your spouse or best friend
- Trusted relatives
- Religious leader
- Caregiving support group members
- Professional therapist or counselor
Ask for Help when Needed
Promise yourself that you won’t allow caregiver stress and burnout to affect your health and wellbeing. One of the best ways to do that is by resolving to ask others for assistance when you need to take a break. Here are some ways to get help:
- Siblings and other trustworthy family members
- Volunteers that work with seniors
- Adult daycare centers
- Senior meal and transportation services
- Professional respite caregivers from a licensed home care agency
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
Caring for an aging in place senior is a labor of love, but it can also be physically and emotionally draining. When you need a break, contact First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our respite caregivers use a unique approach that’s designed to improve the quality of life for seniors so they can keep aging safely and comfortably in place right where they want to be.
While serving as an extended family in the home, our carefully screened and highly trained caregivers can perform duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our family trusted services can be individually combined into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about First In Care today, or to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation for a senior in Manatee County, FL, now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.