Every January billions of people join together in an effort of epic proportions…making a New Year’s resolution. For some it will be to eat better, while others may choose to exercise more. Usually our resolutions center on ways to make ourselves better, but as caregivers these same resolutions have the ability to enhance not only our lives, but the lives of those in our care. Below are some resolutions for you to consider for 2013:
Educate yourself: many times caregivers do not truly understand the ramifications of their loved ones diagnosis or the ways in which to properly care for them. If your loved one has diabetes, it is important to be properly trained in giving insulin as well as what to do should their sugar levels go up or down dramatically.
Get help: a caregiver cannot go through this journey alone. It is important to know who you can call on in an emergency or who you can look to for enhanced support, such as a support group, the Alzheimer’s Association’s helpline or a friend with a welcoming ear.
Care for yourself first: as a caregiver you are the main person your loved one looks to for help. That is why going to your doctors appointments, eating right and getting plenty of rest is so important. Often caregivers get too run down, putting their health in jeopardy, and as a result, jeopardize the health of the person for whom they care.
Watch your stress: stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways from affecting your digestion to elevating your blood pressure. It is important that caregivers work on strategies to reduce stress via meditation or something that brings them comfort and joy. If you include your loved one in these exercises, you may find that they benefit as well.
Realize that change happens: just as a loved one will age, so does this mean that their disease will progress. As a result, one day Mom might remember your name and the next day have no recall of who you are. Realizing that changes will occur and being prepared to make adaptations will help you and your loved one along their journey. In addition, this flexibility will also assist you in making the best decisions for your loved one as their care needs progress.
Organize legal and financial plans: planning ahead is very important in the journey of caregiving. Making sure you and your loved one’s powers of attorney for healthcare and finances are in place, as well as having discussions on wills and long-term care planning will reduce the need for hard decisions to be made during stressful situations. Be sure to include other family members in these discussions.
Thank yourself: it is too easy for caregivers to forget all that they do to enhance the lives of those around them. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back and please know that what you do makes a tremendous difference.