by David Bunnell
IF ANYONE DESERVES a Happy New Year, it is the caregivers among us. To help caregivers have a better 2014 I have come up with a few suggested resolutions. You may have others, but if not these should get you started:
1. PLAN A VACATION. In 2014 you will take a real vacation if you start planning now. Start looking for temporary care for your loved one. If you cannot afford to go to Paris or some other exotic place, choose a location nearer to your home but keep it to yourself. Vacationing will recharge your batteries, help you battle boredom and depression, improve your sleep and renew your spirit. Tell yourself how much better you will be at caregiving when you return.
2. RETHINK YOUR DIET. You and your loved ones deserve good nutrition. Are you eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits? Are you avoiding fast foods and sugar? Eating a healthy breakfast? Choose a few things you can do better and do it.
3. JOIN AN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. There are real benefits to connecting with peers who understand what you are up against. A small investment of time here will provide some surprising benefits — you have nothing to lose.
4. DECIDE ON A STRESS REDUCTION ACTIVITY. You are a caregiver, there is no way you are not overstressed. To deal better with stress in 2014, learn how to meditate, sign up for a yoga class or start taking a regular morning walk. Listen to more music.
5. FIND SOME HELP. There are many public programs that support the well-being of older citizens and help caregivers stay healthy and productive. Examples are senior day care centers, transportation services, nutrition programs, and respite care. Look for a program to lessen your load in 2014.
There are also many services for in-home care you might consider: housekeeping, meal preparation, assistance with bathing and dressing, companionship services and assistance with home modifications. These things cost money but they well worth it. Do what you can, don’t sacrifice yourself just to save a few dollars.
6. RESOLVE LINGERING LEGAL ISSUES. Get some peace of mind by taking care of all those legal things you have been neglecting such as a living will for you and your loved one(s), power of attorney, advance directives, etc.
7. START A JOURNAL. Start writing down your thoughts and feelings about being a caregiver. Keeping a journal is a healthy way for a person to confront their own emotions and begin to process them. Writing eases stress and helps you get over those upset moments.
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