Friday, December 28, 2012

Ten New Year's Resolutions for the Caregiver

1.      I will remember to take care of myself.  
Eat healthy, sleep well, exercise regularly…whew, that might seem daunting when you’re in the midst of caregiving, but taking care of yourself makes you a better caregiver. Maintaining your emotional and physical health is vital. Make and keep preventive care appointments. If the stress of caregiving becomes overwhelming, seek professional help. Remember, if you are not feeling well, you will be unable to take care or visit your loved one.
2.      I will allow myself time to recharge and de-stress.
Don't become a victim of caregiver stress. Remember that the world will keep spinning even if you are not there. Maintain your “me” time. Commit to doing at least one thing you enjoy or need every day. This can be as simple as keeping a journal, having dinner with friends, watching your favorite television show, or reading a good book. If you make plans to go on vacation, give nursing staff a heads up and inform them of anything they need to be mindful of when you’re not there.
3.      I will seek and accept help.
Lean on friends and family. Take them up on their offers to help. Whether you need someone to keep an eye on a loved one at home, or you’re afraid he or she is lonely in a nursing facility, your “helpers” can be that “friendly visitor” that can check in on your loved one when you’re unable to. Other tasks may include running errands like grocery shopping that will allow you more time to be with your loved one. Take advantage of online care team calendars where “helpers” can sign up for specific tasks, like this one provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
4.      I will seek local resources.
Ready and willing support may be available around the corner. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging, NJ EASE at 1-888-747-1122 (for resources for older adults and caregivers), a local chapter of a national disease-specific organization, or the nearest senior center.
5.      I will find support.
Do not walk this road alone. Connecting with someone who is going through a similar caregiving experience can be cathartic and helpful. Support groups provide an opportunity to share advice, vent frustrations and learn from others who have the same concerns, stresses and challenges. Support groups are available in a variety of formats from group meetings moderated by a professional, to online support groups to social networking groups. You might even find someone in the same nursing facility as your family member that you can connect with.
6.      I will have the "tough talk" with my loved one.
Dying is a part of life and it can be difficult to talk about, but it’s one of the most loving things you can do. Have an honest discussion with your family member about end-of-life issues and last wishes. Where would he or she like to be laid to rest? What about funeral arrangements? Discuss how he or she would like to receive medical treatment, if any, and then document those wishes using an advance care directive. Work with your loved one to establish a healthcare proxy, providing copies to all healthcare providers.
  1. I will work in partnership with the professionals who are caring for my loved one.
Always advocate for your loved one, but try not to let your passion for good care come across in a negative manner. Speak up and ask how the situation can be resolved. Friendly, open communication with nursing staff will help keep problems from becoming serious.
If you do believe your loved one’s rights are being violated, please refer to our residents’ rights brochure or contact the Elder Ombudsman’s office if you have concerns regarding your loved one’s care.
8.      I will not feel guilty if I seek help from professionals.
  Sometimes loved ones need more assistance than you can adequately provide. If you’ve sought in-home care agencies, assisted living centers, and nursing homes to help you take care of your loved one, remember that you are still a caregiver. You are still needed by your loved one.
9.      I will give my loved ones a "break."
  We know things may get tough to deal with sometimes. You didn't voluntarily come into this caregiver role, but this also was not the life your loved one imagined. He or she may feel trapped in a body that is not cooperating. Their inability do what once came so easily can be a source of their aggravation. Remember to keep calm and remain patient during these frustrating times. Also, leave the situation if you need to cool off.

10.      will remember my loved ones for who they really are. 
Remember your loved one for who they really are. If things have become more difficult because your loved one is in serious physical decline, mentally rehearse the memories of his or her best years. If your loved one lives in the past and repeats the same story over and over again, use it to your advantage. Ask them about that era – who were the movie stars or the athletes of that time? You might end up hearing a brand new story that your loved one is more than willing to share.


  1. Great resolutions! As a caregiver providing assisted living services in Concord NH, I can totally agree with you that these resolutions are perfect for the typical senior that we care for.

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