New Year’s is the perfect time to reevaluate your lifestyle and motivate yourself to make changes for the better. As a dementia caregiver, there may be many things you wish you could change, many of which are out of your control. However, you are still in charge of your daily life, and there are so many ways to improve and enhance your caregiving routines, lifestyle and sense of purpose. “For caregivers who may feel bogged down with the burdens their role requires, the New Year can bring about hope for better times,” says Rob Low, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Pensacola, a memory care assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida. “Family caregivers can make resolutions to improve their care, make more time for themselves, learn to accept help and approach their role with greater positivity. And what better time to make these changes than the new year?”
10 Resolutions to Inspire Your Year
Whether your role as a dementia caregiver is new or you’ve been caring for your loved one for several years, making new goals can help lead you in the right direction and help you get out of any caregiving funks that we all inevitably experience. The following list can help you start thinking about what in your caregiving lifestyle could use improvement or focused efforts in the coming year:
- Find a Holistic Therapy Your Loved One Enjoys – So much of dementia care is about making your loved one comfortable and improving their quality of life. Holistic therapies are often great ways to accomplish this. Compared to physical or speech therapies, holistic therapies address the whole person, promoting wellness for their bodies, minds and emotions. Finding a holistic therapy that your loved one enjoys can brighten their days, help manage difficult symptoms and may even slow down the progression of memory loss. Popular holistic therapies for dementia include art therapy, aromatherapy, pet therapy, reminiscence and sensory stimulation, just to name a few.
- Practice Self-Care Daily – As a full-time caregiver, it can be easy to focus all of your energy and attention on your loved one and neglect your own needs. Even if your needs seem small in comparison to your loved one’s, they are directly connected to the quality of care you give. Additionally, you deserve to be happy and healthy! Make a commitment to yourself to do something every day that’s good for your physical or emotional health. Take 30 minutes to exercise, treat yourself to an hour with coffee and a good book, or meet up with a friend.
- Learn a New Caregiving Technique – If your loved one has developed a new symptom or you struggle to manage a certain challenging behavior, make a resolution to find a solution. You can find good resources online that provide caregiving tips, or you can contact a local memory care community. YourLife™ of Pensacola, for example, regularly hosts educational events for family caregivers and happily offers advice on how to manage specific behaviors.
- Plan a Special Outing or Event – Extravagant gatherings or big trips are not typically attractive to those caring for someone with dementia. However, such events can add a lot of value to one’s lifestyle. If you’re craving a change of pace or want to do something special for your loved one, plan a special outing. It could be something as simple as going to a concert in the park and stopping for ice cream afterwards. Or, if you’d like to control the environment, plan a small (but joyful) party to celebrate your loved one’s birthday. Invite a few family members or friends who make your loved one comfortable and plan an activity they enjoy, such as watching their favorite movie on a projector or asking friends to bring along their dogs for some pet therapy.
- Try Respite Care Services – If you haven’t yet utilized respite care, try it out! Temporary respite care can come in the form of your sibling taking over caregiving duties for the or scheduling a short stay at a local memory care community. When your loved one stays at a community as a respite guest, they can enjoy all the services and amenities of full-time residents, such as meals, activities and professional care, while you can be sure they’re in good hands as you take a break, travel out of town or tend to other responsibilities.
- Join a Support Group – Having connections with others who understand what you’re going through is so important to a healthy caregiving lifestyle. Sometimes, we just need to talk to someone who gets the challenges of dementia care. The beautiful thing about dementia care support groups is that support goes both ways. There may be a time when you desperately need guidance, and another time when you may be the one to offer advice. Joining a support group and making connections with other caregivers can benefit both you and your loved one.
- Participate in The Walk to End Alzheimer’s® – Every year, the Alzheimer’s Association® organizes an event called The Walk to End Alzheimer’s® at hundreds of locations across the country. This event raises funds for dementia research and raises awareness about the disease and its impact on families like yours. You can participate by joining a team and walking at the event, raising money ahead of time or event leading a team. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to find a Walk near you.
- Coordinate a Caregiving Team – If the last year has left you overwhelmed with caregiving duties, make a plan to delegate tasks and form a caregiver team. Caring for a loved one with dementia shouldn’t be a one-person job. Coordinate a team of family members or close friends and neighbors who are willing to help out in some way. Delegate tasks, such as picking up your loved one’s medication or buying groceries, so you don’t have to do it all on your own. Caregiving as a team not only helps with accomplishing tasks, but it also reduces the stress you may feel and open up time for self-care.
- Help Create Their Life Story – Your loved one may not remember recent events, but chances are they can remember vivid details about their childhood or major milestones in their lives. You can encourage such reminiscing by helping your loved one create their life story. This can take the form of a written document, photo album or even a box full of artifacts – anything that records their memories and stories. Working on a life story can add purpose to each day and give you and your loved one plenty to talk about.
- Keep a Positive Outlook – Perhaps a good resolution for everyone is to be more positive throughout the next year. Staying positive is not always easy for dementia caregivers, but it is possible to maintain a positive approach to care. Start by recognizing what is within your control and what is not. You’ll find that, most of the time, the things beyond our control are what bring us down. Yet, the things within our control have the power to lift us up. Learn to focus on these things, such as your attitude, staying organized, practicing self-care and so on, in order to keep a positive outlook on life and approach caregiving in a positive way.
Your Partner in Care
If you would like to know more about enhancing your lifestyle as a dementia caregiver, the YourLife™ of Pensacola team would be happy to help. We’re dedicated to serving family caregivers throughout their journey. Contact us today to learn how we can help and start making those New Year’s resolutions!
The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.
Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 850-898-3334 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.