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Information about the author of this post.
tlwe223's picture Terri Weber, MSW, CSW
Elder Care Specialist
College or Department
Work-Life and Well-Being
Phone Number
(859) 218-0457
Email Address

We either love them or hate them, but whatever your stance is on New Year’s resolutions, there is something to say about moving into a new year. It provides us with a clean slate and a chance to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and how we can improve next year. Resolutions can provide direction, clarity and optimism. They can be seen as a set of goals to help you plan for the upcoming year.

Whether you are new to caregiving, have been doing this for awhile or see it in your near future, there are resolutions to consider that can make your life easier.

Recognize the good things you do as a caregiver
It’s easy to get caught up in our own imperfections and become our own worst enemy. We need to recognize and acknowledge all the good we do for our loved one. The caregiving role is difficult and overwhelming. It takes grit, resilience and commitment. It also takes a willingness to accept our mistakes and realize perfection is a myth! If it weren’t for you, where would your loved one be right now?

Make self-care a priority 
Setting time aside for your physical, emotional and mental well-being is not just important, it’s vital. We often ignore our own personal needs to ensure the safety and well-being of our loved ones.

Ways to practice self-care:

  • Maintain good sleep habits.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  • Take time to exercise.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family.
  • Keep up with your medical appointments.
  • Know the signs of depression.

When we ignore our own needs, it results in increased stress, depression, anxiety, illness and eventual burnout. Caregivers tend to be sleep deprived, have poor eating habits, do little or no exercise, continue to work when ill, postpone medical appointments and are at a higher rate for substance abuse. Self-care not only benefits you, but also those you are caring for.
Set and maintain boundaries
Establishing boundaries is meant to ensure your caregiving relationship is mutual, respectful, supportive and caring. You do this by defining and sharing what you can and cannot do, what you are willing and unwilling to do, and what you have time for. When healthy boundaries are not established, feelings of disappointment, anger and resentment build up on both sides, leaving you exhausted and stressed.
Reach out for support and help
It can be difficult to ask for help and support. Either we don’t know what we need, we don’t want to be seen as a burden, or we feel guilty that we can’t do it all on our own. Asking for help and support doesn’t mean you are incapable of handling your caregiving situation. It just means you are one person trying your best to care for another. Keep a running help wish list to refer to when people ask what they can do to help. Know what resources are available to you in the community including support groups, in-home care, delivered meals, etc.
Schedule 'me time'
It could be five minutes or five hours; it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s time doing whatever brings joy and meaning to your life. It can be a solitary activity or time spent with trusted friends and family. It’s easy to let "me time" fall by the wayside. But it’s important to make it part of your ongoing routine. Add it on the calendar just the way you would add an important doctor’s appointment.
Caregiving is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. This year, resolve to make things easier for yourself. Prepare yourself for the upcoming year; see it as an opportunity for growth. It’s all part of doing the best job you can for your loved one.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2024!