This past year has been stressful for all of us, but even more so for caregivers coping with caring for a loved one. The new year brings with it a fresh start and a chance for caregivers to adjust their habits and routines in order to live a healthier, happier life. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and consider positive changes you could make to your daily routine in the year to come.
As we move into 2021, the new year provides you with an opportunity to set new goals for yourself that could help to make the caregiving experience more positive for both you and your loved one in the year to come. To help get you started on this journey, here is a look at resolutions you should consider adopting.
Oftentimes, caregivers feel a need to do everything and care for their loved one entirely on their own. It is not uncommon for caregivers to rarely ask for help or accept it when offered. However, this can leave you with an unnecessarily heavy burden that can start to take a toll on your own health. It is important that you remember that you can’t do everything alone, and you shouldn’t be expected to do so. Try to make it a goal for yourself to begin accepting the help of others in the new year, and don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family when things become overwhelming. One thing that you can do to make yourself follow through with this New Year’s resolution would be to make a list of simple tasks that you could use help completing (such as running errands, preparing meals, or mowing the lawn). This way, if someone asks you how they can help, you will already have things in mind that they could do.
One of the most important things that you can do to take care of yourself as a caregiver is to make sure that you schedule regular breaks for yourself. While caregivers have a tendency to constantly work, this can quickly become overwhelming if you do not take time for yourself throughout the day. Simple things like taking ten minutes in the morning to meditate, or setting aside an hour before bed to read a book, can help to relieve a great deal of stress.
You should also try to schedule longer breaks for yourself at least once a week. In order to take care of your mental health and ensure that you are in the right mindset to provide the best care possible to your loved one, it is important that you get away and take time to do something you enjoy on a regular basis. Even if this means getting another relative to sit with your loved one for a couple of hours so that you can go to lunch with your friends, it is important that you do things that you enjoy in order to take care of your mental health. You can also look into local respite care programs if you need someone to look after your loved one while you take some “me time”. At Good Shepherd Hospice, we have trained patient volunteers who can help provide this support to caregivers. Our volunteers can sit with patients and read to them, play games with them, help them write letters, or simply spend time with them when you need some relief.
While it is likely that your loved one’s health has been your primary priority recently, it is also important that you continue to make your own health a priority. All too often, caregivers spend so much time taking care of their loved one that they forget to take care of themselves, and they will start to neglect critical self-care like exercising, eating properly, and getting plenty of sleep. However, considering the stress of caregiving can already negatively impact your physical and mental health, going the extra mile to stay active, eat a balanced diet, and get 7-8 hours of sleep a night can go a long way in helping you to stay healthy. Taking care of yourself will also help to give you energy, ensuring that you can be there for your loved one without feeling run down.
One of your biggest goals for the new year should be to spend more time with your loved one. While this New Year’s resolution may sound odd considering you likely spend the majority of time with your loved one, the fact is that many caregivers are so focused on taking care of their loved one’s daily needs that they forget to spend quality time together. However, setting aside time each week to connect with your loved one can be critical for your relationship. Even something as simple as looking at a photo album together, or working on a craft, could help you to create precious memories and restore your emotional energy.
If you have been putting off making arrangements for your loved one’s future, you are not alone. However, while it can be difficult to talk about, it is important that you get all of the necessary paperwork in order to ensure that your loved one’s wishes can be carried out in regard to how they want their affairs to be handled when they are gone. You should then make a resolution this year to ensure that your loved one has a current will, trust, durable financial power of attorney, and a medical power of attorney. Make sure to consult an attorney to ensure that everything is properly taken care of, as doing these things now can prevent a lot of stress later on.
Additionally, you should also make a plan for your loved one’s future care. The fact is that a time may come when you will no longer be able to provide sole support for your loved one due to your own physical limitations, or because their symptoms are too advanced for you to handle on your own. You should then take the time to research care options, and, if possible, discuss with your loved one what they would prefer. Good Shepherd Hospice works with our patients and their families to develop a plan of care tailored to each patient in order to help them achieve the end of life care that they deserve, with dignity and compassion.
At Good Shepherd Hospice, we know how difficult it can be to admit when you need help in caring for a loved one’s well-being. However, our goal is to be there to support you and your loved one during this difficult time to make sure that your needs are met. We will work with you to determine what level of care would work best for your family, and we can provide compassionate, hands-on, individualized care to meet your needs. Our team of highly skilled, trained care professionals, including spiritual counseling, and bereavement support, will be there to support your family through this tough time.
Please, contact us at Good Shepherd Hospice to learn more about resolutions that you should set for yourself as a caregiver in the new year, as well as to find out more about the services that we provide.