Here at our house, the Christmas tree and decorations come down pretty quickly. I’m always ready to get the gifts tucked away in their new space and help my son make way for his new toys (a hoverboard this year, to his great excitement) before the new year begins. While I love the coziness all the holiday twinkle brings, there’s just something about the promise of a fresh start that makes me want to get the garland back in their storage bins before walking into a new year.
A new year means resolutions, new intentions, affirmations, or words of the year to guide your next 366 days (2020 is a leap year!). Resolutions for caregivers can be tricky. How can you commit to improving yourself when all of your energy goes to those you serve?
If you are in a caregiver role, whether professionally or otherwise, here is some inspiration for your new year. If you are a leader in the senior care field, consider making these resolution ideas as the foundations of your upcoming training events for your team. Let’s all commit to making 2020 a year of healthy caregiving.
Use Pen When Scheduling Time Away
It’s no secret that most caregivers are downright exhausted. Most professional caregivers return home from work to care for their own family members and between cooking dinner, helping with homework, letting the dog out, and maybe squeezing in homework of their own, caregiver coping skills are slim to none. Family caregivers are even more exhausted, often finding no time alone to take a deep breath or sneak in a much-needed nap.
This year, commit to self-care by scheduling it ahead of time and in ink on your calendar. At the end of each month, schedule your time away for the following 30 days. Get the help you need to make it happen, and don’t worry if you spend your time away mindlessly staring out the window of your favorite coffee shop. Your time alone, and away from someone needing you, is invaluable and will keep you healthier this year.
Ask for Help
I know I’m not the only caregiver who struggles with asking for help. My inbox and text messages are full of moms and dads and caregivers and friends who think they can do it all…until they just collapse with the weight of it all. Unfortunately, the senior care industry does not always offer the help that most professional caregivers need, focusing instead on providing support groups and education for family members. While family caregivers absolutely need these resources, professional caregivers need them too.
This year, commit to recognizing when you are faltering or struggling and ask for help. When you text a friend or call your co-worker, be concrete with what you need. Instead of saying, “I’m tired”, say “I need to rest, can you please pick up the donuts for the resident social in the morning so that I can get a few more minutes of sleep?” Instead of saying, “I’m sick of you never helping out with mom,” say “I need you to bring over lunch for mom on Saturday.”
My little family of three, plus our adventurous dog, is at our very best when we are outside. On a hike, wading through a stream, gripping a railing to avoid slipping on a snow-packed trail, listening for birds, rolling our eyes as my husband chases after a lizard trying to catch it, no matter what we are doing outside, we are generally happier. The benefits of nature have been long-researched and proven, but it only takes one quick walk in your neighborhood or jaunt to your local park to experience it for yourself.
This year, commit to going outside at least once per day. It doesn’t count if you are running in and out of your car; it only works if you intentionally go outdoors to experience it. Go alone, with your family, with a friend, or even with the person you care for. Talk while you are out there, sing, meditate – the experience is yours, and you get to choose what it looks like.
Learn Something New
I’m a better caregiver, a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better writer, a better anything when I learn something new. Whether you read a book, consult a reliable source online, listen to a podcast while you grocery shop, or listen to a friend talk about their experience, you can learn how to do something differently that could benefit one part of your life.
This year, commit to being open to learning new things. Perhaps you sign up for a course at your library about organization so you can finally get your loved one’s financial documents in order, or maybe you take an activities course to bring more purposeful fun into the lives of those you serve.
Get Started Today
I’m cheering you on this year, confident you can find small ways to make a serious impact on your emotional and physical health this year. As for me, I’m committed to resolving to each of these resolutions for caregivers this year too. Let’s care for ourselves – and care for the caregivers we employ – throughout 2020. I guarantee the seniors we serve will benefit.