So many New Year’s resolutions seem the same time after time: save money, lose weight, stop smoking, etc. They’re always about adding one more thing to your to-do list, which means more time and effort from you. But if you’re caring for elderly parents, putting another item on that list may be the last thing you want to do. However, certain items may actually make things in your life easier – not harder. Here are some very special resolutions to consider making if you’re the caregiver for a senior.
Take care of your health
When it comes to looking after your own well-being, the best medicine may be preventative medicine. This includes getting all your necessary vitamins, flu shots and other vaccines, exercising (even a half an hour a day), and eating right. During airline emergencies, they tell you to put your own gas mask on first, and the same goes for taking care of your health. If you get seriously ill, who’s going to be there for your senior?
Join a support group
Getting rid of the toxic buildup of stress, frustration, anger, and worry is a lot easier when you can share what you’re going through with others. Find a caregivers’ support group near you, and you may soon start feeling less alone and better able to cope.
Guard your time
If you’re responsible for a senior, you need to be wary of how you spend your time. Don’t feel you have to say “yes” to everything. This is true for everyone, but especially true when you’re caring for elderly parents. You probably have fewer unstructured hours than the general population, so literally think of your time as money. Don’t “spend” it on anything you don’t feel is worthwhile, or that you just can’t handle right now.
Get outside help
There’s no shame in admitting you need help to take care of your senior. Frequently, a certified home health aide can take a great deal of the burden off you – even if they’re just part-time. You may also want to look into a nurse or someone to help manage medications and treatments that become overwhelming. If you’re worried about cost, there may be more payment options than you realize, including Medicaid. Be sure to explore all avenues for getting the extra assistance you need and deserve.
Have fun with your senior
It may sound like a strange resolution, but don’t forget to have fun with your senior (if you can). Of course, this will depend on their individual abilities, but it doesn’t have to involve going anywhere, spending money, or unnecessarily exerting yourself. It can be as simple as looking at an old photo album together, singing favorite songs, or sharing treasured family stories.
The point is just to do something that reminds you of how much you love each other. It can also help remind you, the caregiver, that the time you spend with your senior doesn’t always have to be about duty, anxiety, and stress.
Give yourself a break
We know it’s hard when you don’t seem to have a spare moment, but if you can, don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. Relaxing and rejuvenating is essential to both your physical and mental health. Many times, this is a lot easier when you can rely on trusted, professional caregivers. Even if it’s just a hot bath or an hour with a good book, a little “me” time can go a long way.
Caring for elderly parents takes resolve
We know that caring for elderly parents means you make resolutions 365 days a year, and not just once when you start the calendar afresh. You rededicate yourself to looking after their health, well-being, safety, and happiness every time you get up in the morning. You are already stronger and tougher than you know, and probably doing a better job as a caregiver than you imagine. So, if you must make one more resolution this year, let it be this: celebrate yourself and the caring person that you are!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.