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Five New Year's resolutions for caregivers

by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief

Caregivers can get so wrapped up in their demanding role that they neglect their own wellbeing. This is not good for them, nor is it good for the care receivers. New Years traditionally is a time for resolutions that can make our lives, and the lives of others, better. Here are five resolutions that you may want to consider making.

5 Resolutions for Caregivers

  • I will take care of my mental and physical health. Upwards of 30 percent of caregivers die while caregiving. Stress and depression are often indicated as contributing causes. If I am not healthy--or alive--I cannot take care of my loved one.
  • I will offer respect, but firmly insist on being treated with respect, as well. I deserve to be respected by the care receiver, by other family members and by friends. If I am abused by negative treatment from any of these people, taking into account dementia and other issues with the care receiver, I will calmly state that I won't be treated that way and I will leave the situation.
  • I will get help with caregiving before I take abuse. I will remember that if I need to leave a situation where I am being abused, verbally or physically, by a care receiver who has dementia and is not capable of controlling behavior, I can get respite care. In-home agencies are a good choice if the care receiver is at home. If the care receiver is in a care center, I will alert the center's staff that I need to take a break, and I will rest assured that my loved one is being cared for while I take time off. Even people with dementia often understand enough, when challenged, to change their behavior for a time.
  • I will work in partnership with the professionals who are caring for my loved one. I will not let my passion for good care come across in a negative way, which can create an adversarial atmosphere with the professional caregivers. Unless otherwise indicated because my loved one is not getting good care, I will remember I am the elders' advocate, but I will also remember that most advocacy involves diplomacy. Partnership creates the right balance.
  • I will remember that getting help from professionals is not failure on my part. Physicians, in-home care agencies, assisted living centers, and nursing homes help you take care of your loved one. You are still a caregiver and still needed by your loved one. You have just gotten help because the care receiver needs more than you can safely give.