Whether you're a caregiver for a family member or an in home care provider, New Years is a perfect time to reassess. Here's some thoughts from one of our senior care providers.
2016 silently tiptoed out for many people who were not into the blowing-horns-saluting-the-New Year-with-bubbly mode. On tiny cat feet, 2016 quietly walked out the door, and gave a hug to 2017 while whispering in its ear, “treat every day with kindness and love”. Those who greeted the New Year with reflections of the past year and a cup of hot cocoa or Earl Grey tea may be thinking of new ways to journey along the path of 2017. Resolutions may include getting more exercise, cutting down on nibbling junk food while watching tv or get started on that endless honey-do list.
I’ve thought about “New Year Resolutions” and realize that despite my good intentions, my resolves to do this or that fall by the wayside a few weeks after the New Year begins. This realization triggered some thought about making an effort to “do better” in small but significant ways. Making changes that would put smiles on the faces of those who are in your little corner of the world would be a good starting point.
When waking up in the morning, focus on the power of positive thinking. Instead of lamenting “Oh, great! My plate is over-filled today. How can I get it all done?” Think, instead, “I should prioritize what I have to do today. I know I’ll be able to do this because, first-off, I like to do these things and secondly, hey, I’m good at doing them!” That kind of thinking will get your creative juices flowing and also make you feel good about yourself. Giving yourself a pat on the back is a gentle push to get moving in a positive direction, not a negative one. This resolution will make your inner self ready to meet the day and give it your best efforts.
Brushing your teeth is part of your morning routine. Why not add another must-do? Make a conscious decision, each morning, to speak kindly to your family as they gear up for their day – whatever it may be. Too often the hustle-bustle of getting breakfast, grabbing important paperwork, feeding the pets, throwing on a load of laundry or figuring out what else needs to be done before you head out the door…result in unkind words being thrown at family members. Criticism spews from a mouth like an angry volcano. Those in the path of such words become defensive and then, in turn, ready to speak unkindly to others. Remember, once spoken, words cannot ever be retrieved! Sure, you can follow up with “what I meant was” or “sorry”, but the damage has been done. The target of your ire just had a chunk taken out of their heart. Now there is a dead spot on that heart where once was a smile. I speak from experience of being on the receiving end of words that went right to my heart and did damage – it hurts! Yes, this will take big-time effort on your part but what a life-changer it will become when you make it routine. Sending your family (and yourself) off to meet the day with smiles is awesome! A great resolution!
Too often we know someone who is experiencing a huge bump in their road and their day is falling apart. We may tell them we are sorry or off-handedly say “let me know if I can help” and then hope they won’t really ask us to do this or that. After all, aren’t we all busy with our own lives? Or so we tell ourselves. Reach out to friends, family or acquaintances when they need help. Put aside some time in your day to check in on them and, again, remind them you really want to help. Caring about others does not have a time limit – it is endless! And rightly so. Sincerity is caring with you going the extra mile. Think about it. After all, when someone reaches out to us and then follows up with a phone call or knock on the door, isn’t our load somewhat lightened knowing that someone really cares enough to want to help – that it just wasn’t an off-hand gesture? Sincere caring is a resolution that will bless them and your own heart, too.
This may sound weird but it’s not! Do you feel unworthy/unable to be loved? Then you need to take a good look at yourself in the mirror and tell that person staring back that they are a good person -- talented, caring, and worthy of love and respect. Don’t be bashful. Don’t think you are being egotistic. You aren’t. Do you know that the hardest person to love is yourself? You know everything about you – what you perceive to be your good and bad points. But - to be able to give love to others, to care about them and to give the best you can whatever the situation -- you need to be coming from a place of inner strength, self-approval and knowing that you are valued. Resolve to take stock of the person who wears your shoes. By doing this frequently, you will be reminded to smile at that reflection in the mirror.
DON’T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS
How many of us form an opinion about a person or situation only to find out our idea of so and so or some event was totally off track? Rather than being patient, or listening intently or getting the whole story, we jumped the gun, thus putting a negative slant on a certain situation. How often have we hurt a person through word or action because we had formed a wrong conclusion? Make a New Year’s resolution to get all the facts. If you need to ask questions, then do so.
It takes bravery to speak up about a situation that bothers you. It is an injustice to a person if you don’t tell them if something they said or did is always on your mind. I’ve always held to the premise that not saying anything when you need to means you really don’t care. Having something eating at your heart and not talking about it is like an invisible rock hung on a chain around your heart – always heavy and wearing away at you. I am not a person to make waves and I hate confrontation. But, there are times when I’ve had to take that very hard step to let someone know that something is wrong. I tell them that something they did or said is weighing heavy on my heart and we need to talk. When the air has been cleared, I can breathe easier and my heart steps lightly. Resolve to clear the air and the sun will shine brighter for you!
WHAT DO THESE QUALITIES MAKE?
You may be asking how can these resolutions: Positive Thoughts, Kind Words, Sincere Caring, Loving Yourself, Not Jumping to Conclusions and Be Brave have a connection with being a Caregiver? Well, think about it. A Caregiver who starts their day with negative thoughts, biting words, off-handed offers to help, not being able to look in the mirror, making assumptions, or being too timid to clear the air walks into a client’s home dragging any of this name-it, claim-it baggage. Poof! Today’s road starts out rocky, not smooth. Adopting even one of these resolutions into your everyday life will put a spring into your step and a sincere smile on your face. Your head will be ready to think, your hands will be ready to offer assistance and your heart will be ready to truly care about the person who needs you. A Caregiver who is walking their New Year’s Resolution journey will bring sunshine and not gray skies to someone who needs to know they, too, are valued. Unlike winter’s sniffles, spreading these life-changing resolutions around would be awesome!
Whether you're a family caregiver or a homecare provider, what resolutions have you made which might help in your role as a caregiver?