Over my years as a professional caregiver, I've come to realize that the care I provide to myself is just as crucial as the care I provide to my loved ones. With the dawn of a new year, I'm setting out on a journey to make resolutions that not only benefit those I care for but also prioritize my own well-being. I hope these 10 resolutions can serve as a roadmap for my fellow professional and family caregivers out there. Cheers to a successful and rewarding new year!
Resolution #1: Prioritize Your Mental Health
Let's start by acknowledging that caregiving can take a toll on our mental health. It's crucial to make our emotional well-being a priority. Consider seeking professional support from therapists or counselors to address the emotional challenges that often come with caregiving. Embrace mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques, like meditation and yoga, as daily practices. The Caregiver Action Network offers valuable resources and support for caregivers looking to address burnout and prioritize their well-being.
Resolution #2: Take Time for Yourself
Remember, self-care is not selfish; it's essential. Schedule regular "me time" to engage in hobbies, exercise, or relaxation. Enlist the help of respite care services to provide temporary relief when you need it most. BrightStar can provide respite care. Don't be afraid to set boundaries and learn to say "no" when necessary to prevent burnout and ensure your own well-being. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, their care will suffer.
Resolution #3: Delegate and Share Responsibilities
You don't have to carry the entire caregiving burden alone. Setting clear boundaries and communicating your own needs and limitations is essential for maintaining balance. The concept of "care teams" is gaining traction for a reason. Communicate openly with family members about sharing caregiving responsibilities. By working together, you can provide the best care for your loved ones. Also, consider hiring professional home health aides (aka caregivers) from a reputable home care agency like BrightStar to assist with daily tasks.
Resolution #4: Foster a Supportive Network of Friends and Allies
Build a supportive network of friends and allies who understand and support your caregiving journey. These individuals can provide emotional support, lend a helping hand when needed, and offer a listening ear. Leverage online caregiver communities and forums to connect with others who share similar experiences and offer valuable insights and advice. You can also find solace in joining caregiver support groups both online and offline, as sharing experiences and coping strategies with others can be incredibly healing.
Resolution #5: Financial Planning and Assistance
The financial aspect of caregiving can be overwhelming. Start by creating a budget and plan for your expenses. Research government programs and grants designed to support caregivers financially. Additionally, explore long-term care insurance options for both yourself and your loved ones to secure your financial future. If this feels daunting, you could always consult with a financial advisor to help you sort through your options.
Resolution #6: Stay Informed on Technology and Telehealth
The recent rise in telehealth services, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, offers caregivers new opportunities. Resolve to stay informed about telehealth options for seniors. This includes learning how to set up virtual doctor's appointments, how to help seniors participate in virtual social activities via apps like Zoom, and accessing remote monitoring tools. Keep an eye on reputable sources like the American Telemedicine Association for updates on telehealth trends and best practices. There’s also a local San Diego start-up called Mercury Health with an innovative, totally hands-free safety monitoring system with sensors that can detect falls and other emergencies and automatically send mobile alerts to your phone.
Resolution #7: Educate Yourself Continuously
In the ever-evolving field of healthcare, knowledge is power. Commit to continuous education by staying informed about the latest medical advancements and caregiving techniques. As a BrightStar caregiver, I receive paid training and continuing education throughout the year, but you could also subscribe to reputable healthcare and caregiving publications, and don't hesitate to attend online webinars and workshops related to caregiving and specific medical conditions to ensure you stay well-equipped to provide the best care possible.
Resolution #8: Advocate for Your Loved One's Rights
In today's evolving healthcare landscape, advocacy is a powerful tool. Learn about patient rights and advocacy organizations related to your loved one's condition. During medical appointments, speak up and ask questions to ensure clear communication. Document your loved one's medical history, treatments, medication schedule and progress to advocate effectively.
Resolution #9: Stay Informed About Legal and End-of-Life Planning
Legal and end-of-life planning are crucial aspects of caregiving that you can't afford to overlook. Consult with an attorney to establish or update important legal documents, such as wills, advance directives, and power of attorney. Discuss and understand your loved one's preferences for medical care and end-of-life decisions to bring peace of mind during challenging times. Organizations like the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys can provide valuable information in this area.
Resolution #10: Promote Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices are fundamental to well-being for both you and your loved one. Pay close attention to dietary needs and encourage a balanced and healthy diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a reliable source for evidence-based nutritional information.
Additionally, promote more physical activity and a healthy lifestyle to ensure improved overall health and quality of life. Encourage seniors to stay physically active to maintain their health and independence. As a caregiver, you could create engaging exercise routines that cater to seniors' abilities and interests. Explore trends like virtual fitness classes, senior-friendly workout programs, and fall prevention. The National Council on Aging provides resources and programs to support active aging.
Incorporating these resolutions into your caregiving journey can empower you to navigate the modern healthcare landscape while safeguarding your own well-being. After all, a healthier caregiver is better equipped to provide the care and support your loved ones need. This year, make a commitment to embrace self-care, stay informed, and advocate for both your loved one and yourself. Together, we can embark on a journey towards a healthier and more balanced caregiving experience in the year ahead.
About The Author
Stephanie started as one of our very first caregivers when we opened in 2019. Over the years, she’s proven herself to be an amazing caregiver and has been frequently praised by her clients. Her hard work and dedication earned her a promotion to client care manager. Now, she works in the office coordinating our care services in collaboration with clients, families, our care team, and other care partners to ensure the highest quality and most reliable in-home support services, excellent communication, and the highest levels of satisfaction throughout the entire process.
About BrightStar Care of Carlsbad, CA:
BrightStar Care of Carlsbad is the #1 rated home care agency in San Diego, CA, by Home Care Pulse. They offer a wide range of in-home support services, including companion care, personal care and skilled nursing. They also specialize in care for people with Parkinson’s and dementia. Because BrightStar caregivers are trained and supported by a RN Nursing Director who watches over our clients and staff – something extremely rare for home care companies -- they can provide early detection and intervention when medical issues arise. In fact, BrightStar clients are 25% less likely to be hospitalized compared to clients of other home care companies.