Published Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Senior Living / Health: New Year's Resolutions for caregivers

From Staff Reports

Caregivers of the elderly are often sandwiched with responsibility, caring for an aging relative while at the same time caring for their own children and their spouse. So it’s no wonder they often forget to take care of themselves.

A year can go by without a caregiver making it to a restaurant, a doctor or even a hairdresser for a much needed haircut. And to top it off, caregivers may rarely hear a “thank you” for all their hard work because seniors are often in emotional and physical pain and don’t understand the sacrifice caregivers make to take care of them.

Senior Helpers, one of the largest in-home care companies in the nation, is raising awareness about the importance of New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers – not only to benefit caregivers’ mental and physical health, but to ultimately improve their care of the elderly.

“The new year is a good time, psychologically, for caregivers to make resolutions to re-adjust how they feel about their caregiving responsibilities,” says Peter Ross, co-founder of Senior Helpers. “Often, caregivers get lost in the day-to-day duties of helping others and forget to take care of their own basic needs. That’s why we encourage caregivers of the elderly to take care of themselves so they can ultimately provide better care. And at some point, caregivers may need to bring in outside help so they get a much needed break.”

Top 10 Caregiving Resolutions:

1. Take “You” Time Every Day – make a commitment, every single day, to take 5, 10 or 15 minutes to do at least one thing you enjoy or need, such as meditating or listening to music.

2. Keep Preventive Care Appointments – It’s important to make and not skip regular doctor appointments (and see the doctor if you’re sick). You can’t give good care if you’re sick, plus you can pass on your illness.

3. Create a Family Support Group – Create a support group of loved ones who provide you with emotional and physical support. The bigger your community circle, the stronger you and your senior will become as a unit.

4. Make Time to Exercise - Studies show that exercise is a great way to relieve stress and to feel refreshed again! If you can’t get motivated to exercise on your own, find an exercise buddy who can help you stick to your commitment of better health.

5. Get Enough Rest – Find ways to ensure that you get at least seven or eight hours of sleep. Your body and mind need an adequate amount of time to rest each night so you can feel rejuvenated each morning for your caregiving responsibilities.

6. Be Kind to Yourself – It’s OK to make mistakes. Learn to shake off feelings of guilt or self-criticism that you aren’t doing all you can to help your senior. It’s important to remind yourself daily that you’re doing the best you can.

7. Give Thanks – When a friend or family member spends time with the elderly loved one you’re caring for, send them a quick thank you note. It’ll encourage them to help more in the year ahead.

8. Learn About Local Resources – Many caregivers don’t take advantage of support available right in their own town. In difficult times, it’s important to have resources you can reach out to immediately to help you cope.

9. Delegate – Write a list of activities that would help you the most throughout the new year. Hand out your “Caregiver’s Resolutions for Family and Friends” to anyone who can help make your life easier.

10. Think About What Your Senior Would Want for You – It’s easy for caregivers to get lost in their daily responsibilities. Take each day to remember that the senior is also dealing with feelings of losing their independence, or dealing with an illness, etc. Remember who they really are inside and the good things your senior would want for you.

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