If you’re reading this, you’ve successfully (or barely) made it through another year of joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, and blessings and challenges. Hopefully, you were able to focus on the positives and learn from the negatives as you set your sights on making 2018 the best it can be.
As you’ve already learned, life as a caregiver is both rewarding and challenging. You’ll have good days and not-so-good days. One day, your loved one will show appreciation for your sacrifice with a hug or kind word. On another, they may criticize you for not giving them dinner exactly at 5:00 or for turning on the wrong news station. But through it all, your focus on their well-being will keep you going.
In order to make 2018 the best possible year for you, the caregiver, and ultimately your loved one, you should plan ahead. Part of that planning process should be setting goals and resolving to make sure certain important things happen that will ensure that your loved one receives the best possible home care. Consider these three resolutions for the New Year:
Schedule respite care
Caring for an older loved one while also keeping up with other life responsibilities like work, your own family, housework, etc., can be exhausting. There are days where you feel like you’re running on fumes. It’s common (and justified) to eventually feel burnt out, resentful or angry about taking on so much of the care for a loved one.
One way to avoid these feelings is to schedule respite care in advance to give yourself time to rest and recharge. Respite care is designed to relieve caregivers from the demands of caregiving for a few hours, days or even weeks.
Do you schedule vacation from your job each year? Think of respite care the same way – schedule the equivalent of two weeks per year for someone else to take over caregiving duties for your loved one. It could be another family member, friend, neighbor, or even a professional home care provider. Scheduling respite care in advance increases the likelihood that you’ll take the time for yourself without feeling guilty about it.
Take time to capture memories
Caring for your loved one can definitely be hard work. But it can also be enjoyable and some of the most valuable time you’ll ever get to spend with them. One way you can make the most of your time together is to share (and make more) memories.
Sometimes after a family member becomes ill or their memory begins to fade, family stories become untold or inaccurate. These stories and memories are the backbones of a family’s legacy. You as the caregiver have a great opportunity to preserve these memories by allowing your loved one to share them during your time together. Consider recording these on video, audio or paper to capture the important details of these great old family stories that will help future generations connect with the past.
Listening to these stories will allow you to create your own special memories with your loved one while allowing them to focus positively on times in their lives when they were more active, energetic and vibrant.
Join or start a caregiver support group
You aren’t alone. There are many caregivers like you who have chosen to accept the responsibility of tending to the well-being of a loved one. Like many others, you’re applauded for your love and sacrifice.
When things get challenging during your journey as a caregiver, it’s sometimes hard to find someone who really understands – unless they are walking in the same shoes you are. Having support from others in similar circumstances is important.
Consider reaching out to other caregivers you might already know, or seek some out on social media or other sources, to begin a caregiver support group. Even if the group includes just two or three others, it’s an opportunity to support each other while sharing thoughts or caregiving ideas.
If the group members live too far apart to meet physically, you can start a special Facebook page or set up a group text to encourage each other when things get challenging.