It's the time of year when, in the midst of taking care of last-minute holiday preparations, many start thinking about the start of a new year and how they'd like their lives to be different, preferably better, in the coming year. It's the New Year that inspires people to turn over a new leaf, whether they plan to lose weight, stop smoking or advance their careers. But for family caregivers, those resolutions might look a little different from most. We've rounded up a few New Year's resolutions for family caregivers to help you determine how to improve your life, and the caregiving experience, in 2015.
1. Take time for yourself.
While it's often difficult to put your elderly loved ones in the care of someone else, taking time to take care of yourself and recharge allows you to be more present when you are caring for your loved ones. Resolve to start taking some time for yourself, if not each day, at least once a week.
2. Reach out and ask for help.
Family caregivers are notorious for never asking for help, even when they're in desperate need. You're so used to having everyone else rely on you that the idea of being dependent on someone else is unfathomable to you. But many family caregivers are surprised to learn how many friends and family really do want to help; they just don't know what to do. Commit to asking for help when you need it in 2015.
3. Get ample rest.
Whether you're losing sleep because you're up caring for your elderly loved one in the middle of the night or you're having trouble sleeping due to stress, resolve to get enough rest in 2015. Lack of sleep can lead to a multitude of problems, including serious health conditions. If you're not well-rested or you get sick, you won't be able to provide the care your aging loved one needs.
4. Read a good book.
Many people get so tied up rushing through our day-to-day lives that reading a book seems out of the question. But reading a good book can be tremendously good for the soul. Read an inspirational book, such as Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul, or choose a book from this list of the best books for caregivers.
5. Find more balance.
If you're a family caregiver and also a member of the Sandwich Generation, you're painfully aware of the struggles of balancing multi-generational demands. Commit to finding more balance in 2015, dividing your time adequately among your children, elderly loved ones, spouse or partner, and work demands. A more balanced life is a more fulfilled life.
6. Advocate for your aging loved ones.
If your loved one suffers from a disease such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, get involved. Advocate for funding for a cure. Participate in fundraising events and, most importantly, network with other caregivers and families in similar situations. The support these networks can provide when times get tough is priceless.
7. See the value in yourself.
The elderly loved one you care for may or may not be able to tell you how much they appreciate you. Your children, if young, don't know how to express their gratitude, or maybe they haven't yet reached that pivotal moment in life when they realize just how much their parents love them and the sacrifices they made on a daily basis to provide for them. But they don't have to vocalize it; trust us, they're grateful. Because they can't always thank you themselves, thank yourself. Be grateful for the opportunities you've been given and your amazing ability to be a pillar of support to so many people in your life. And take some time to enjoy it.
We'd love to hear your 2015 New Year's resolutions. What suggestions do you have for family caregivers to live better, more balanced, more fulfilling lives next year?