The new year can feel like a fresh start. Maybe you've been taking care of an elderly loved one for a while now. Perhaps Mom lives with a chronic illness like dementia or diabetes. Or Dad has survived a stroke and needs more care.
As the family caregiver, it’s easy to neglect yourself; however, such neglect can turn dangerous for both you and your loved one. Don’t get burned out physically and emotionally. “Depression is the most common emotion of long-term caregivers,” according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
When supporting a family, children, a pet, and working a full-time job, you can’t afford to get sick, because then everyone will feel the negative impact. So, take back control of your health. You and your loved ones will be better off in the long run. In the process of making better lifestyle choices, your elderly loved one can also become healthier. It’s all about creating a win-win situation.
Successful New Year’s resolutions come with clear and easy instructions. This way, you’re more likely to stick to them past February. The overall goal is to create a better reality for you and your elderly loved one on multiple fronts — physical, financial and emotional.
Here are five resolutions family caregivers can try heading into the new year.
1. Get Mom or Dad the Right Help
Maybe you can’t take care of yourself properly until you know you’ve taken care of Mom or Dad. But caregiving is so stressful and turbulent that you may only achieve that kind of break when you locate effective home care for your parent. Selecting home care is a long-term solution for family caregivers seeking sustainable support.
Satisfy both your needs and your elderly loved one's goals — protecting quality of life. Home care makes it possible. An excellent home care agency will help you align your parent with a matching personality, and many allow you to interview potential caregivers. This means you can select a dependable, compassionate caregiver to provide daily care in the home of your senior.
Quality is vital because a quality home care agency provides personalized care. For example, the trained companion assists with bathing, dressing, medication reminders and blood pressure checks. The home care provider allows you to choose from different types of care like dementia care, Alzheimer’s care or palliative care. Your elderly loved one will be safer and healthier with professional monitoring.
When Mom or Dad is in trusted hands, you can finally relax. Home care allows your senior to "age in place" for as long as possible.
2. Encourage Regular 30-min Walks
After selecting home care, you’ll have time to devote to exercise. Commit to regular walks around the neighborhood or park. Maybe you can also bring the family dog along. Just 30 minutes can make a dramatic difference in uplifting your mood. You’re also exercising muscles and taking away stress. Once you stick to regular walks — every day or every other day — you’ll start to notice the difference. Your blood pressure will go down. You’ll have more energy to accomplish your to-do list, including caring for Mom or Dad when the new caregiver isn’t around.
Healthy movement is essential for your elderly loved one, too. Walks are an excellent time for your aging parent to work on posture and regain confidence in mobility. Encourage Mom or Dad to increase walking time by about five minutes every week to ensure your parent stays mobile and, perhaps more importantly, confidence in his or her mobility.
3: Tune-up Family Cars
Car trouble will rapidly exacerbate the fatigue you have from caregiving. Not only will it limit your mobility, including your ability to get to and from work, and your parent's home, but the expenses can strap you in an unfortunate financial situation.
Take advantage of New Year offers. Oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations ensure a smoother commute and can increase the longevity of your vehicle. Preventative maintenance will save you from financial heartache when a car breaks down unexpectedly.
Furthermore, if your elderly loved one no longer drives, the home care provider you’ve retained can serve as a driver. When you’re busy, the professional caregiver can accompany your loved one on fun trips and errands around the community. This keeps your loved one both mobile and social.
4: Eat Healthier Together
Many people want to lose weight in the new year. However, healthy weight loss requires eating right. Still, it's much harder to change eating habits alone. So don’t go at it solo. Rally your whole family, including your elderly loved one. Encourage each other to make healthier food choices — more salads, vegetable dinner options, fruits and less junk food, soda and alcohol. By getting the entire family involved, you’ll feel supported on the journey to healthier eating.
Meantime, the home care provider can contribute to this resolution. You may instruct the professional caregiver to prepare healthy meals for Mom or Dad. Stock up on fruits, vegetables and whole grains like quinoa. Should your elderly loved one have a food allergy, the professional caregiver will be able to steer clear. Furthermore, meal planning and prepping is only part of the success. The professional caregiver can monitor and encourage Mom or Dad to eat what’s on the plate. Instead of eating alone, your loved one will have someone to interact with at the kitchen table.
5: Enjoy More Quality Time With Loved Ones
When you’ve followed the above four resolutions, you’ll naturally end up with the fifth — more quality time with loved ones. You can relax and enjoy bringing the family to spend time with your elderly loved one. When visiting Mom or Dad, you’re no longer visiting to work. You’re visiting to spend quality time together, allowing your family to create fun, loving memories.
When your senior feels loved and supported, the whole family is happier. So read more on the experience of a reputable, home care agency.