Caregivers, You Owe It To Yourselves To Have New Year Resolutions
Around the world it has become a tradition for people to make New Year’s Resolutions for the upcoming year. People reflect on their lives and ask themselves what they would like to change, improve or wish for in the coming year. Being a family caregiver especially for an aging loved one is the ultimate self-sacrifice. You get so caught up in striving to be the perfect caregiver that you are at risk of losing yourself. You may neglect yourself by poor food choices, failing to exercise, running yourself ragged, isolating yourself from friends and neighbors. In other words you self neglect. The following is a list of resolutions especially tailored to family caregivers:
- Take Care Of Yourself. You owe it to yourself and your aging loved one to take care of yourself. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health effects are common among family members who care for an aging loved one. The physical strain of caring for someone who cannot perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, grooming and other personal care activities, can lead to increased health care needs for the caregiver so go our and get that Flu shot. You need to eat well and exercise regularly.
- Do a reality check. You can not be perfect. Give yourself permission to be human and that includes making mistakes.
- Forgive Yourself. You are human and there will be times when you yell out of anger and frustration. Do not beat yourself up.
- Communicate Your Feelings. Do not keep your feelings bottled up inside or squash them down because you feel that you have no right to feel overwhelmed, sad, angry and all alone. Reach out to friends and family.
- Ask For Help. Be specific with family and friends as to what tasks you would like help with. Some tasks are more time-consuming so consider which people would be better suited with each type of task.
- Thank Yourself. Even if your aging loved one or other family members fail to do so, thank yourself for everything you do that you for your aging loved one.
- Take Respite. You do not need a lot of time to carve out small pieces for yourself. Take a walk, take a hot bath, read a book for example. You might consider bringing in some outside professional help or possibly taking your aging loved one to an Adult Day Care Center or to your local area Senior Center where they have tons of activities for them as well as providing a social interaction that they also need. If a relative or friend offers to keep your aging loved one company then say YES.
- Smile And Laugh Everyday. No matter how overwhelmed you may feel, smiling and laughter are the best medicine for turning your inner frown upside down. Rent funny dvds such as the Pink Panther series. Chances are your loved one would get such a kick out of it as well. Go on You Tube. There are tons of funny television and movie outtakes. Read anything by Erma Bomback and you can’t help laughing. Turn your negative thoughts into positive ones and you will find that you are a happier person because of it.
- Appreciate The Gift Of Having Your Aging Loved One In Your Life. Though clearly caregiving can be a burden it is also a privilege and is very emotionally rewarding. Enjoy every moment you can with them.
- Do Not Self Isolate. Join a caregiver support group whether on-line or in your local town. It is not only nice to see that you are not alone but you can learn a lot from their stories. Reach out to your friends. They miss you.
- Be Organized. The more organized that you are, the more in control you will be. This includes being the most learned advocate for your aging loved one. The internet is replete with easy to understand medical information thanks to Web MD, the Mayo Clinic and Duke Medical just to name a few. Read all there is to know about your loved one’s condition so that you can better communicate with your aging loved one’s doctors.
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