UPDATED: This article is updated from an article that appeared on HelpingYouCare® on December 31, 2013.
Happy New Year! Now is the exhilarating time for a new beginning — the time to make New Years resolutions for the coming year! Have you thought about yours?
Below are some ideas for positive and helpful New Years Resolutions for Caregivers and Seniors.
No one person can realistically hope to accomplish everything listed below in one year! But we hope that this list of suggestions may serve as a useful checklist to help you find and add to your list the New Years Resolutions that are right for you in 2015!
Wellness Resolutions for Seniors & Family Caregivers From HelpingYouCare™:
- Utilize Free Preventive Care Medical Services. Take advantage of the Free Annual Wellness Visits to your doctor for Medicare beneficiaries and other preventive medical services now available to you without charge under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, the new health care reform law. And, keep your doctors appointments for preventive and other care.
- Follow a Healthy Diet. Resolve to follow a healthy diet, and learn about the many health benefits and prevention of serious illnesses that you can derive from your diet alone. Follow the guidelines for a healthy diet summarized by the USDA in the MyPlate icon and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or by the Harvard School of Public Health in the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate. Utilize Smart Diet Tips & Tools provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Heart Association.
- Lose Weight if Necessary and Maintain a Healthy Weight. Learn about your ideal weight and how to calculate your BMI, and implement a realistic and healthy program to lose weight, if necessary, and to maintain a healthy weight. Read and educate yourself about Weight Loss & Maintaining a Healthy Weight.
- Exercise. Learn about the incomparable health benefits provided by exercise, and implement a healthy exercise program for life.
- Sleep, Hygiene, Quit Smoking & Other Healthy Practices. Learn about the health benefits derived, and resolve to get enough sleep each night, practice good hygiene, quit smoking, and implement these other healthy practices.
- Mental Acuity & Intellectual Wellness. Learn about and resolve to engage in activities that help to preserve mental acuity, slow mental decline with age, and promote intellectual wellness.
- Social Wellness. Resolve to maintain contact, connection, and social interaction with others. Live a healthy social life, and avoid the illness and cognitive decline that can be caused or exacerbated by social isolation.
- Other Areas of Wellness. Learn about and maintain healthy practices that lead to Emotional Wellness, Ethical/ Spiritual Wellness & Vocational Wellness.
- Healthy Aging: Stories of Inspiring Seniors. Regularly look for, read about, and be uplifted by Stories of Inspiring Seniors — people who at ages ranging from their sixties to over 100 have achieved and continue to achieve remarkable things, proving that with healthy living, almost anything remains possible at any age!
Overall Checklist of New Years Resolutions for Family Caregivers From HelpingYouCare™:
- Educate yourself as a Caregiver.
- Improve your “health literacy.”
- Learn about the health conditions your senior loved one may have.
- Learn about the medications he or she is prescribed, and their potential side effects and interactions with other drugs.
- Through all of the above, prepare yourself to ask your doctors good questions.
- Take some classes for family caregivers to learn about the several issues you may face as a family caregiver and the resources available to help you.
- Find and read helpful books for caregivers that apply to your particular situation. Consider book reviews written by those who have experience as family caregivers.
- Keep up with daily news, events, and important studies, stories and developments of interest and concern to family caregivers.
- Review Practical Tips & Skills for Family Caregivers for an overview of issues to plan for and tips on how to organize and prepare yourself as a family caregiver.
- Take advantage of practical tips, checklists and tools offered to help you plan, organize, and prepare yourself for these issues and challenges.
- Review your own and your loved one’s legal and financial situation, consult qualified attorneys and financial advisors, and take steps to address the important issues in advance, such as:
- Put in place a Health Care Advance Directive for yourself, and encourage your senior loved one to do so.
- Encourage your elderly parent to grant you a Durable Power of Attorney to allow you to act for him or her in the event of his or her incapacity (subject to the requirements of applicable state law).
- Consult qualified attorneys and financial advisors for appropriate Estate Planning, and Financial Planning to cover the costs of Long-Term Care both for your senior loved one and for yourself.
- Consider acquiring a private Long-Term Care Insurance policy for your loved one, to help cover future costs of long-term care at home or in a care facility that would not be covered by Medicare or other financial resources available to you.
- Utilize Retirement & Long-Term Care Planning tools made available by the government — both for yourself and for your senior loved one(s).
- Organize your own and your loved one’s Important Documents, so that they are listed and filed where they are safe and readily available when needed.
- Is there a technology, product, or tool that can be wisely used to make your loved one’s life better and safer and your life easier?
- Is there medical equipment that could be helpful in the care of your loved one, and could the cost be covered in whole or in part by Medicare?
- Learn more about Home Health Care resources and assistance potentially available to you, use CareHelpFinder tools to find Home Health Care resources and help in your area, and use checklists and Medicare Home Health Compare tools to help you evaluate and choose help wisely. Understand the extent of Medicare coverage for home health care.
- Learn more about the different senior housing and care facility options for your senior loved one, whether senior retirement communities and CCRC’s (with three levels of care provided) for senior living with resources, care and activities provided, or care facilities with higher levels of care such as assisted living or nursing care facilities. Plan ahead for the future, or consider taking steps now, if your situation so indicates, to find appropriate retirement or care facilities for your senior loved one, and use checklists and Medicare Compare Tools to evaluate and choose an appropriate care facility carefully and wisely.
- If your senior loved one is living in a care facility, learn how to Monitor & Improve the Quality of Your Loved One’s Care at a Care Facility, and utilize the checklists and tools provided to do so.
- Take good care of your health, and implement for yourself the Wellness Resolutions for Seniors & Family Caregivers listed above.
- Learn about and take steps to alter your lifestyle in ways that will help you prevent the health conditions that commonly face seniors. See “Prevention” under each of 14 different medical conditions commonly faced by seniors.
- Learn about Caregiver Self-Care, Stress Management & Survival Tips, and take steps to manage and reduce the stress, guilt, anger and conflicting emotions, and sense of being over-burdened and squeezed between duties of work, family and caregiving, that commonly weigh on family caregivers.
- Take time for yourself, get help, and find ways to maintain equanimity and a positive attitude, and learn and practice other caregiver survival tips.
- Read uplifting and inspiring stories and books and focus your mind on matters that provide inspiration and emotional care for caregivers as well as humor to lighten the load of family caregivers.
- Ease your burden so you can take more time for yourself:
- Find respite care facilities, that can provide short-term care for your senior loved one to give you periods of time off for yourself.
- Get help. Consider employing a home health agency or private duty care assistant to help with the care of your loved one (but become knowledgeable about the tax implications and requirements before employing a private duty assistant), and look for and utilize other available resources in your community to lighten your burden.
- Shop online for comfortable and adaptive clothing for your senior loved one, to save yourself the wear and tear of lengthy shopping trips for these sometimes hard-to-find items
- Utilize available technology, products and tools, and medical equipment to aid in the care of your loved one and make your life easier
- Look into your legal rights in the workplace, as a caregiver. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended (FMLA), you might have a right to job-protected time off to care for an ill or disabled family member.
- Join a Support Group with other family caregivers like you, learn from and draw inspiration, appreciation and support from other caregivers’ stories, and reach out and share with others helpful and supportive suggestions you have learned from your own experience.
- Vow to go beyond political rhetoric and slogans, and learn what really is provided in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (what some refer to as “Obamacare”), and form your own independent understanding of its benefits and drawbacks.
For comprehensive information on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, and how it benefits you and others in your state, see HealthCare.gov, an official website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
In particular, visit the HealthCare.gov section on The Health Care Law & You, which includes:
- The Full Text of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act,
- A summary of its Key Features,
- The Timeline of What is Changing and When,
- State by State Information on how the Health Care law helps people in each state, and
- Resources Available to Help in Applying for Healthcare Coverage under the law.
- Keep up on the news about Health Care Reform and legislation.
- Learn by Comparing the U.S. Health and Long-Term Care Systems among the several states and comparing the U.S. system with systems in other countries, based on factual studies and reliable news reports.
- Study and Consider Editorials and Advocacy for solutions to problems in in our Health Care and Long-Term Care Systems, published by experts in these fields, and consider adding your voice and comments on what needs to be fixed and how best to do it.
Here are some more ideas for Caregivers’ New Years Resolutions that have been suggested by others:
Resolutions for Caregivers — From Senior Care Corner:
- “Thank yourself in case no one else does.
- Ask for help!
- Take time out of every day to care yourself so you can go on caring for your senior.
- Get your flu shot! You can’t afford to be sick!
- Read a book of inspiration or new ideas; learn more about how to cope with your senior’s specific disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.
- Join a support group!
- Maintain balance between your family, work and caregiving lives.
- Deal with your emotions of anger, confusion, frustration and talk with others who can help you.
- Check your senior loved one’s finances to be sure they can cover their needs, seek advice from experts on how to make the money last.
- Stay positive – you are making a difference!”
Top 10 Resolutions for Caregivers — From Agis:
- Delegate and Say Yes to offers to Help;
- Create a Family CareGroup;
- Get Enough Rest – Hire someone to help, or get help from friends;
- Make and Keep Preventive Care appointments – and keep your doctors’ appointments
- Be kind to yourself. Put aside guilt, and remind yourself you are doing the best you can;
- “Commit to doing at least one thing you enjoy or need every day;”
- Learn about and take advantage of local resources available to help you
- Get your loved one’s important papers organized;
- Plan for your own long-term care;
- Thank others who have helped you during the year.
See also Agis’ list of Top 10 Resolutions for Friends & Family of Caregivers.