A Month of Caregiver Resolutions


2019 - Lillian Reda, Director of Memory Support Clinical Practice and Education

Here we go again, New Year’s resolutions about how we ought to start another diet, exercise, be nicer. Perhaps for this new decade, caregivers looking after someone with dementia are better off focusing on tasks that will help them have the needed strength to power through another demanding year.

The following resolutions though they may seem unforeseeable, they are heartfelt and truly helpful:

This week I resolve myself:

·        I will order my priorities so that I come first.

Selfish? No more like practical common sense, because if you fall apart physically or emotionally, you put the well-being of those you care for at risk.

·        I won’t beat myself up if I lose my patience.

Because you need to know you will (both lose your patience and then criticize yourself for it). Dementia care can be immensely frustrating. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t vent. Try to vent mostly to others with well- functioning brains, but cut yourself some slack if you occasionally slip up and take it out on the person with dementia.

·        I will spend less time chasing cures and more time embracing today’s “new normal.”

Don’t get stuck in “battle mode” when there’s no cure; better to reserve your energy for maximizing the quality of each day, creating pleasant moments, which may not be like the day before.

This week I resolve myself:

·        Not only won’t I sweat the small stuff, I won’t sweat the medium stuff.

If you have dealt with dementia for any length of time, you probably don’t sweat the small glitches of life much anymore (keys in the trash, repetitive stories).  Now add even bigger things to the list of things that you’ll be unaffected by, so long as nobody’s in danger, it’s amazing what can be “okay.”

·        I won’t force.

Here’s one that makes things easier for you. When you get to that point where you are exerting excessive energy trying to make something happen, step back. It’s probably not worth it, whether you’ve been forcing someone to get dressed, take their medicine, get them into a car or forcing some personal matter. Reassess whether it really matters, Drop it for now, try again later.

·        I will eat more chocolate.

Make it dark and keep the portion moderate and you can keep this resolution every single day!

This week I resolve myself:

·        I will read something that lets me wallow in my sadness a little.

Diversion and escapism has its plusses, but so does insight. And there is a title for nearly every circumstance. Grab a Starbuck’s and make a visit to Barnes and Noble.

·        I will stay engaged even if I get very little back, because I am getting something back.

I’ll tell my loved about my day even though he or she is unresponsive. I’ll touch my loved one even though they may never reach for me. I’ll smile even when my loved one frowns. Thing is, these actions do more than benefit the person with dementia. You too get a stress-dropping payoff from reaching out and the bonus of being human.

·        I won’t forget the saying. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Good for helping you to bite your tongue the 30th. time you’re asked in 30 minutes. “what time is it?”

This week I resolve myself:

·        Start out by saying.

“In 2019, I will…..” and finish with one or multiple simple resolutions. Not able to pinpoint? Think about what you want to do this year for your health, relaxation, family, fun and create a resolution that fits you best.

·        I will do what I can to protect my own brain health.

You have a front row seat on the toll dementia can take. Be your own incentive for taking charge of your health as best as you can this New Year.

·        Take at least one vacation this year.

Did you know that at least 30% of Americans do not use their vacation days in a year? The thought of taking a vacation can often make caregivers feel guilty. However, vacations can actually have a positive impact on your health, and this is especially the case for caregivers. Go make your reservations, pack your bags and find time for at least one vacation this year.