5 New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

Exercise, learn about long-term care, go the doctor and other ways to improve your life this year 

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- Posted on Dec 30, 2019

A woman on a sofa reading a book.

The new year: it’s an ideal time for caregivers to pause, reflect—and chart a plan for managing their caregiving journey in 2020. We know, many caregivers feel like they don’t have even a few minutes to spare in their often hectic lives. Still, with a little analysis of what worked—and what didn’t—caregivers can refresh, refocus and re-commit to providing the best care for themselves and their loved ones.

  • Educate Yourself About Long-Term Care Costs
    Many Americans underestimate the cost of long-term care and fail to understand what insurance covers—and what it doesn’t. For example, Medicare does not cover nursing home or assisted living expenses. With the median annual cost of nursing home care topping $85,000 in 2017, it’s vital to learn about other financing options, including long-term healthcare insurance (LTCI).   
     
  • Exercise
    Taking care of yourself is one of the most important—and often overlooked—things you can do as a caregiver. Physical activity can help reduce stress and depression and prevent chronic diseases. Pressed for time? Take small exercise breaks—say 15 minutes—a few times throughout the day or make a daily or weekly date to exercise with a fellow caregiver. That way you burn calories and get some emotional support at the same time.  You can also exercise with your senior by taking walks or following the TV workout series designed especially for seniors by the National Institute on Aging.
     
  • Schedule your own healthcare appointments and screenings.
    It happens all the time: you are so busy taking mom or dad to their weekly doctor check-in that you figure it’s okay to skip your annual mammogram or prostate screening. Don’t do it. Maintaining optimal health will not only make you happier, but will make you a better caregiver as well.
     
  • Ask for Help
    Many adult children believe that they should be able to handle all the caregiving duties—physical, medical and legal—by themselves 24/7. But that’s a heavy burden for anybody to bear. Make 2020 the year you reach out—and accept help.
     
  • Avoid Isolation.
    Respite care—whether it is provided by a home care agency, a local program for the aging or by caring friends and family—is vitally important in maintain optimal mental health and gives caretakers the opportunity to socialize and focus on their own priorities. It can be isolating when other people don’t understand the unique challenges you face on a daily basis; joining a support group can allow you to share your feelings, learn coping techniques and build a sense of community.  

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