This is the time of year people all over the world set new goals and intentions. The gyms are more crowded. You’ll find people ordering more salads than burgers.
And in just a couple of weeks, things will settle down. The goal list will be long forgotten as “life” kicks in and we all fall back to our normal patterns. One study shows that while as many as 41 percent of us make resolutions every year, less than 10 percent of those people feel they were successful in achieving those resolutions.
As a caregiver, you may be tempted to forgo a resolution list this year. Caregiving is a day by day experience in the best of times; why set yourself up for failure by trying to make resolutions come true. That might not be such a good idea. Caregivers face the highest health and mental related problems because of the stress. Putting YOU at the top of the list is more important than ever at this stage of your life.
If you haven’t written out your resolution list for the year, pick up a pen and start writing. Changing the focus may give you just the motivation you need to be healthier, be a better caregiver, and be a happier person.
1. Prioritize your physical and mental health
As a caregiver, you’re used to giving. A lot. The chronic, daily stress you feel every day can put you at greater risk of many serious illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. While it’s never easy to step away from your caregiving role to give you time to take care of you, pick up your calendar and make it happen this year.
Going to the gym is something easy to put aside. How about signing up for a class instead? This gives you a specific time each week to look forward to. It gives you a specific day and time to find someone to replace you. Whether you hire out or ask a family member or friend.
You can also do things within your caregiving role. Want to eat healthier? Get a new recipe book and make better food choices. This is something both of you can do together. Bring home veggies instead of frozen dinners. Your loved one can help you chop. Just the act of making better food can also put you in a better mood. And that can ring through your home and lift the mood exponentially.
2. Spend more quality time with your loved one
Do your days seem nothing but one chore after another? Tending to your loved one’s needs has made you nothing more than a caretaker.
Being busy is hard. Especially when you’re rushing around trying to get everything done. But stop and think for a moment; when was the last time you enjoyed each other’s company? As a husband and wife? Or a child and a parent? Doing things you used to love to do together.
While you might not be able to do what you could do a dozen years ago, you can still incorporate some of your favorite things into your daily routine. Things that will give both of you a break. How about an outing to take in a movie? You can avoid the Friday night rush by heading out on Wednesday afternoon instead. Or instead of eating every meal at home, find a restaurant you both like and make it a date for lunch or dinner. Cultural activities abound in most cities and if you watch, you can even find low or no cost days to visit at odd times. If you calendar activities, it gives you both something to look forward to.
3. Plan for your future
Caregiving is often a day by day role. Part of you may not know what to expect tomorrow. The other part may choose to keep it in the dark.
Yet that can lead to depression and anxiety. Though it’s often a tough pill to swallow, take a close look at your situation and make plans for the future. General plans, without filling in the details. Will your physical situation change in the coming months? Will your loved ones? How will that impact the way you live? Will you need help?
Instead of waiting for things to spring on you, plan for your options now and move more comfortably into the future. Start with simple conversations. As in-home care providers, we do this all the time. You don’t have to start with 24 hour care or drastic changes in your life. Start small instead. This allows both you and your loved one to adjust to the changes.
How can in-home care help you?