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New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

2023 is here. Can you believe it?

This is the time of year when many people take stock of their lives. What could be better? What could be different?

The start of a new year is like looking at a chalkboard that has been wiped clean. It’s a blank slate ready to be written on. Life can be whatever we make it. If you’re caring for elderly loved ones, what will you write on the blank slate that is 2023? Here are some ideas.

Explore Self Care Many caregivers put themselves last. Are you one of them? Why not make 2023 the year that you make time for yourself? Why not make this year the year that you pay attention to your own health? The person you are caring for relies on you, and if you're not healthy, you won't be able to provide care. Make this the year you schedule those doctor's appointments you've been putting off, and start practicing daily habits that will contribute to your good health.

It’s not selfish to take an hour out of each day to do things that relieve stress, things that are 100 percent for you. Read, walk, work on a favorite hobby, treat yourself to a massage, or do something you find meaningful. If you feel too constrained by caregiving obligations, look for resources that will free up time, such as an errand service or personal assistant. One of the best forms of self-care is spending time with like-minded people. Caregiver support groups are great for this.

Think Realistic Lots of caregiving advice-givers tell you to think positive. We suggest aiming for something more achievable. Instead of trying to put on a happy face when you feel anything but, focus on being realistic about your situation. Be kind to yourself. Caregiving is hard work! Look for those moments where you connect with the person you are caring for. Look for ways to laugh or find humor in the day, even in the midst of disappointment. Share happy memories and remembrances of the old days. Focus more on being realistically positive rather than faking positivity.

Reconsider Bad Habits Do you have certain favorite behaviors that help you cope with the uncertain of life? Smoking, drinking, overeating, overspending, and lack of exercise are just a few of the many habits people pick up along the way, all in the name of buffering themselves from life’s unpleasantness. Will this be the year that you drop these habits in favor of a healthier lifestyle? One popular method to build habits is called the 21/90 rule. The rule is simple. Commit to a goal for 21 straight days. After three weeks, the pursuit of that goal should have become a habit. Once you've established that habit, continue to do it for another ninety days.

Give yourself time to be mad/sad/unhappy. Set a few minutes aside to acknowledge that the situation you are currently in isn’t what you had hoped for. Set a timer, wallow in being upset or sad, and know when that timer goes off, the wallowing ends and you get back to work.

Tend to Your Soul What makes you feel happy and connected? Do that! Volunteering, gardening, baking, walking, and attending church events are just a few ideas. Set aside a few minutes each day for prayer, meditation, devotions, or journaling. Consider developing a gratitude practice. Make a list of ten things you’re grateful for at the end of each day and then reflect on them. It’s a subtle yet powerful way to shift your attitude.

Share with Others Consider talking about the ups and downs of your elder care journey with trustworthy people. Is there a relative you could confide in. A friendly person from a support group? A burden carried alone is doubled. A burden shared is halved. You may be surprised at the people who are willing to offer a compassionate listening ear. The new year will be whatever you make it. What steps will you take to make 2023 your best year yet? Remember, if you need support or guidance along the way, Kimbrough Law is here to help.

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