This ArMost New Year’s resolutions are discarded pretty quickly. Studies have shown that less than 25% of people remain committed after 30 days. Yet there is value in setting goals to make things work more smoothly and to be sure you are living in a way that is true to yourself rather than always fulfilling the needs and expectations of others. Before setting New Year’s goals this year, I encourage caregivers (myself included) to begin by taking some time to think about this quote from author K. L. Toth, “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” Caregiving is a role often defined by the expectations of other people – the person you’re caring for; other family members and friends; and medical, legal, and human services professionals. Take a little time to focus on your needs and what you might like to bring into your life as you look ahead to a new year. Think about how you can practice self-kindness, open yourself to new solutions as the caregiving landscape changes for you, and reach out for help when you need it.
Committing to something enjoyable: This could be anything from scheduling a daily walk or setting aside time to read a good book to taking on a fun project like learning to knit, recreating a dish from your favorite cooking show, playing an instrument, or learning to paint. You could even take this a step further by finding an online book club or class for cooking, painting, yoga or other activity. Commit to one thing and schedule it. Carving out time that feels good and reflects your authentic self is critical to your health and well-being. Delegating and asking for help: Delegating and asking for help ensures that you can keep your commitment to doing something for yourself. Can someone call and visit with your care partner while you attend your class, group, or practice? Is there a family member, friend, or neighbor who wouldn’t mind regularly taking over a chore that would free up some time for you? If there isn’t anyone who comes to mind, brainstorm with professionals at local resources to see what’s available. Planning for your Care Partner’s future: There may come a day when you are no longer able to provide care due to your own limitations or because your care partner’s needs are too advanced to handle. Research available options knowing that doing so can save time and stress in the future and can bring peace of mind now. And, difficult as it may be, determine who would provide care if anything interfered with your ability to do so. Designate that person as the alternate to care for your loved one in your will. —Jane De Broux, Caregiver Program Coordinator Area Agency on Aging of Dane County
This article can be found it the Mauston office January 2021 Newsletter.