New Beginnings

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Whether or not you observe this favorite tradition, it’s always good to take a little time each year to step back and take stock of where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going. Take this opportunity to celebrate your victories over the last few months, consider where you might have done things differently, and then set a course for improvement in the coming weeks and months.

Without this exercise, I frequently feel stuck, like I’m accomplishing nothing with my life. It also helps me to write down my goals. There’s just something about putting them down on paper. When I come back a few months later to check my progress, I’m often surprised by how much I’ve gotten done.

If you are the primary, or only, care provider for your loved one, you might feel like one day blurs into the next, with no real high points to celebrate during your care journey together. My mom’s days were like that in 2017. Day by day, the clock moved slowly forward. Her Home Instead CAREGivers would try to break up the monotony with conversation, activities or getting out to run errands; phone calls and visits from family members and friends were the high points for her each week. I tried my best to focus on these when I would call her, and when I visited, I told her stories about my children’s lives to give her a window into another world.

Take care of yourself and your care recipient in 2018. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your New Beginnings list:

  1. List three things you are grateful for from 2017, and if possible, ask your loved one to do the same. Write these down, maybe in your journal, and make a habit of doing this periodically!
  2. List one to three things you’d like to accomplish in 2018 and do the same with your loved one. These should be attainable, and things that will make you feel good. For example, perhaps you want to learn to paint or play a musical instrument. Maybe your loved one would like to read or listen to a biography of someone they admire, or perhaps they would like to record a message for their grandchildren. Set a deadline and celebrate your accomplishments together!
  3. Be good to yourself. Keep your preventive maintenance appointments throughout the year. Take some “me” time each day to find your balance.
  4. Be social on a regular basis. It helps you stay connected, and it’s also good for your loved one to spend time with others while you are gone.
  5. Keep your spiritual foundation strong. Join a Bible study group, even if it’s online. Attend church services when possible, or ask your minister to drop in for visits if you cannot get out regularly.
  6. Exercise! Your body and your brain need regular workouts to maintain their ability to function at optimal levels. Try for every day, but three to four times weekly is your absolute minimum. Even bending and stretching is a great way to start this discipline.
  7. Don’t forget that your body and your brain also need sleep and healthy nutrition. Give each of these a healthy dose of priority in your New Year’s planning.

Think about what you want 2018 to look like in your role as a Family Caregiver. Pray about it, plan for it, and write it down. Keep it where you can see it, and you’ll be on your way to a great new beginning in 2018!

 

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