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Top 10 Resolutions for Family Caregivers

Family caregivers are just about the busiest people around! But it's worthwhile to set aside a few minutes for creating resolutions that will make 2012 more meaningful and less stressful.

Caregiver folding laundry with client

Resolution No. 1: Take care of your own health. As we’ve seen in previous issues of Caring Right at Home, family caregivers are less likely to eat well, have regular medical checkups and get enough exercise. This leads to increased risk of depression, high blood pressure, heart disease and even Alzheimer's disease. This year, resolve to schedule your annual checkup and screenings, and follow your healthcare provider's wellness instructions.

Resolution No. 2: Take some time for yourself. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, the 65 million Americans who are currently providing care to an elderly or disabled loved one spend an average of 20 hours a week on caregiving tasks. Caregivers may become so focused upon the requirements of their loved one's care that they lose sight of their own needs. Give yourself permission to focus on yourself.

Resolution No. 3: Hold a family meeting. Do siblings disagree on how elderly loved ones are cared for? Is one sibling providing the lion's share of care and support? Get together in person or by phone and have a family care planning session. If tensions run high in your family, bring in a social worker, geriatric care manager or other professional to facilitate.

Resolution No. 4: Ask others for help—and be specific. One daughter who is serving as primary caregiver for her father, an elderly stroke patient, asked, "Shouldn’t my family just know what Dad needs?" The answer might be no! Friends and other family members are often eager to lend a hand, but probably need input from you about the best ways to help.

Resolution No. 5: Learn to say no. As your caregiving workload has grown, have you reassessed the other areas of your life? Are you still hosting the family holiday celebration? Running the school bake sale? Serving on a committee at your faith community? Take stock of your life to decide which activities you truly enjoy, and which ones add to your stress. Explain to others that your caregiving duties make it impossible to keep up some of your normal activities at this time.

Resolution No. 6: Take care of your back. A recent study showed that family caregivers who provide hands-on care for disabled loved ones are at greater risk of back injury. Ask your healthcare provider to instruct you in safe lifting practices and learn about assistive home equipment.

Resolution No. 7: Spend more time with others. Caregivers often report feeling lonely and isolated. Spend more time with old friends and at favorite social gatherings. Consider joining a local support group where you can communicate about feelings and experiences with others who share your situation. Facebook and other social networking sites also offer online support groups.

Resolution No. 8: Laugh a little every day! Humor promotes physical, emotional and cognitive wellness. Laughter lowers stress, relieves tension and even boosts the immune system. Watch comedies on TV and funny videos on YouTube, or read humor publications.  

Resolution No. 9: Keep up on current developments in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other support programs. In these challenging economic times, it's important to help senior loved ones receive the benefits they have worked for all their lives.

Resolution No. 10: Enlist professional help. The first nine resolutions are all great ideas. But how can busy caregivers carve out enough respite time to take better care of themselves? For many families, professional in-home care is the ideal way to give families a break and help their loved one thrive at home. In-home caregivers can take over many time-consuming and challenging caregiving tasks, including:

  • Physical assistance for your loved one, such as bathing, dressing, shaving, transferring from bed to chair, incontinence care and toileting.
  • Grocery shopping, planning and preparing delicious meals for your loved one.
  • Housekeeping services to keep your loved one’s home clean and safe.
  • Companionship to provide stimulation and a mood boost for your loved one.
  • Transportation to medical appointments and activities. 

Your loved one depends on you for care. Taking care of yourself helps you be a better caregiver. Resolve to make 2012 a happier, healthier year for the whole family! 2012 fireworks

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Right at Home, Inc. is a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those we serve. We fulfill that mission through a dedicated network of locally owned, franchised providers of in-home care services.

 


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