The start of a new calendar year sets the stage for a fresh start.  Set some goals, move forward, embrace life’s circumstances and take a moment to nurture your mind and body.  If you have taken on the role of caring for a loved one, whether formally or informally, it is especially important to take good care of yourself first and remain organized.

According to The National Caregiver Alliance, in 2015, 52 million caregivers (one out of every five households ) are involved in caregiving to persons aged 18 or over.  This number is expected to increase dramatically in coming years as the population ages and we all live longer.

Below we have created some “Caregiver Resolutions” to keep in mind as you ring in the New Year and a “Caregiver Checklist” to use as a guide for your caregiving journey.

2017: Caregiver Resolutions

Successful and happy caregivers know they need to take care of themselves before they can take care of someone else.  Nurture your soul in 2017 and be sure to create your own “Caregiver Resolutions”. Following these resolutions will help you to be a more effective and healthy caregiver.

Take some time to relax.  Get a massage, do some yoga, meditate, play some music.  Most importantly, step away from the grind and have some quiet time all for yourself.  Do something that helps you unwind and relax.

Maintain your support network:
Stay connected to your friends and family.  Remain active in support groups, church, social activities, etc.  Many local organizations provide support groups where you can also connect with other caregivers.

Eat healthy & exercise:
As much as time permits, always attempt to make mindful decisions surrounding your health.  Grab the fruit instead of the cookie.  If you cannot make the gym – go for a short, brisk walk.  

Set small, realistic goals:
Set small, attainable goals that will help you accomplish small milestones.  Keep it simple and pick some resolutions that are easy and the most meaningful for you!

Always remember and share in special memories.  Remembering good times can bring a sense of peace and happiness to an otherwise difficult situation.

Focus on positive:
As hard as times may be – try to find the good in your day!  The power of positive thinking is incredibly beneficial.

Take a mental health day:
Treat yourself to a day of enjoyment – in the middle of the week, or whenever you want.  Give yourself a break and do something fun.  You will rejuvenate yourself and be a more effective caregiver. 

2017: Caregiver Check-List
Whether you are living long distance or close to your loved one – having an organized checklist can be invaluable during a time of need.  This checklist will also serve a great purpose for your own reference but also for other caregivers supporting and caring for your loved one.

  1. Contact List:  Include all individuals your loved one is connected with in terms of medical care, business professionals, family, etc.
  2. Medication List:  Include all medicine, dosages and intake frequency
  3. Allergy/Chronic Condition/Health Snapshot:  This should cover any allergies or ongoing, chronic conditions your loved one may endure.
  4. Make sure you have an organized chart containing a Will/Trust, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and an Advanced Healthcare Directive
  5. Create a password list for email, important accounts, etc.
  6. Create an emergency card for your loved one’s wallet – include emergency contacts with  important medical information

Happy 2017!