A new year is another chance to get it right for yourself
“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey
In addition to the sense of fulfillment we get helping our loved ones, caregivers face challenges in the inherent stress, endless tasks, and increasing needs and demands they face. Caregivers will always have challenges; it comes with the territory. The new year gives us the chance to look back on both our challenges and celebrations. It’s a time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and how can we improve.
Looking back on last year:
- Were you kind to yourself last year, knowing you did your best as a caregiver? It’s easy to lose sight of your own needs when caring for someone else. Being a good caregiver means taking care of yourself.
- Did you take 10, 15 or 20 minutes every day to do one thing you enjoy? Stress has an enormous impact on our day-to-day quality of life and our overall health. Even a few minutes of quiet breathing in your car can help. It’s important to learn how to manage stress wherever and whenever possible. Other relaxation techniques include journaling, mindfulness mediation, and yoga, tai chi, or qigong.
Did you make your own physical and mental health a priority? Making yourself a priority can be challenging with all the responsibilities caregivers have. Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall good health. Self-care not only benefits you but those you are caring for.
- Get enough sleep and rest: Sleep affects both our physical and mental health and can be one of the first things we ignore when we get busy or stressed.
- Be active and eat well: Adding exercise and nutritious food every day can make us feel better and is an important part of our well-being.
- Nurture relationships and connect with others: Increasing your sense of belonging and purpose helps boost your happiness, lowers your level of anxiety and depression, improves your self-confidence and self-worth, helps you cope with traumas, and strengthens your immune system.
- Did you capture memories from your loved one - memories that could be lost one day? One of the hardest things about losing a spouse, parent, grandparent or good friend is wanting to hear and talk about old stories or understand the unknown family connections. Making an audio or video recording is a great way to capture those memories.
- Did you work on planning for your own future? Resolve this year to research options for your own future care and identify the financial and legal documents needed for achieving that.
- Were you able to find the resources available in your area to help you with your caregiving tasks? If your loved one lives in the Bluegrass area, do you have a Pathways Senior Resource Guide? It’s a great booklet that lists almost all the senior services in the area. To request a copy, click here.
Congratulate yourself on what went well, take pride in what you accomplished last year and learn from the things that did not go well. Caregiving is something you do out of love and a sense of duty, and while you do not always feel appreciated, the care you provide is important and needed by your loved one.
You might be new to caregiving; you might have been doing this for a while or you might see caregiving in your future. Regardless, there are always things you can learn and do that will help you and your loved one. Let us help.
If you are a UK employee, retiree, spouse/partner or family member, UK Elder Care can assist you with your caregiving needs by providing information, consultation, guidance and referrals.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!