The new year is upon us and that means it’s time to think about ways to improve yourself in the next year. A common practice is to think of resolutions or goals to achieve over the coming years. If you are the caregiver to an elderly loved one, here are seven resolutions you can consider.
1. Provide regular socialization opportunities for your elderly loved one
A big problem for elderly people is a lack of socialization. Although aging in place gives seniors the chance to remain in the comfort and safety of their homes, a marked negative aspect is the isolation that can accompany it.
Make it a habit to take your elderly loved one to social events. Many retirement communities have regularly scheduled events such as bingo, quilting, and so on. Spend a few minutes doing research and be sure to take your loved one out at least once a week.
2. Learn about long-term care
Despite of your best efforts, there’s a good chance your elderly loved one will eventually need long-term care. Although most people are unaware of this, Medicare does not cover long-term care. Therefore, you should spend time getting familiar with the process and taking steps to help your loved one prepare financially.
Remember, long-term care can be prohibitively expensive and the cost of a long-term care facility tends to increase faster than inflation. You should consider options such as long-term care insurance.
3. Review your loved one’s advanced medical directives
Few persons want to be left in a situation where they are unable to dictate the care they receive. Yet, without an advanced medical directive this may happen to your loved one. If this person already has an advanced medical directive, you should take time to review the documents and ensure they still reflect his or her wishes. If there is no advanced medical directive in place, getting one prepared should be a top priority for 2017.
4. Research your resources
Acting as a caregiver can be overwhelming. You should take time to investigate helpful resources that are available to you. Many communities have services that help the elderly and their caretakers. For example, Meals on Wheels (or a similar service) can help provide hot, nutritious food. At the same time, this gives you a much-needed break from the kitchen. Make a resolution to spend time exploring your resources.
5. Consider your own future
When you are the caregiver for an elderly loved one it can be easy to pour your time and energy into this important task. But it can come at a cost.Many caretakers neglect their own financial and physical health to provide superior care to their loved ones.
Take time for yourself and determine what you can do to preserve your ability to earn a living. Some caregivers lose valuable promotion opportunities (and raises) by being too busy providing care. Explore options at work, including flex time, telecommuting and others. Do what you need to do so you stay in the game and remain up-to-date on developments in your career.
6. Ask for help
Too many caregivers feel they need to try to go it alone. Make it a point this year to ask for help. Many persons are willing to lend a hand, but may not have offered to do so because they didn’t see the need. Others may have offered, and if they did, take them up on it!
There is nothing wrong with asking for help. The much-needed break you get when a friend or family member drops by to watch your loved one for a few hours is important to you and to your ability to provide superior care. If you don’t take some time off to unwind and reduce stress on occasion, you will eventually burn out and become unable to provide the level of care you wish to.
7. Consider your blessings
This year you should make it a point to take time to consider the good things you have in your favor. Research shows that your outlook on life directly impacts your ability to function at a high level. So, be sure to take the time to count your blessings. It will improve your outlook and ability to provide care.
Van Mierlo, L.; Meiland, F.; Van der Roest, H. Personalised caregiver support: effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in subgroups of caregivers of people with dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (Vol. 27, Iss. 1)(Jan. 2012). Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gps.2694/full. Last visited December 6, 2016.
Remmen, R.; Verhoeven, V.; Wens, J.; et al. The effect of caregiver support interventions for informal caregivers of community-dwelling frail elderly: a systematic review. International Journal of Integrated Care (Vol. 12)(Aug. 2012). Available at http://ijic.ubiquitypress.com/articles/10.5334/ijic.845/galley/1778/download/. Last visited December 6, 2016.