Tag Archives: new year resolutions

Make 2019 a year for caregiver intentions

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For caregivers, a new year doesn’t always feel like a new beginning. The grueling 24/7 responsibilities of caring for a loved one can temper the enthusiasm for a new year.  Caregiving can be isolating, especially during the winter months, and its easy to feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. New year, same old blah.

If you are caring for someone nearing the end of their life, it also can be difficult to embrace the optimism that a new year is supposed to bring.

While I can’t guarantee that your caregiver journey will be better in 2019 (I wish I could!) there is one thing you do have power over, and that is your mindset. I know the last thing I wanted to hear when I was a caregiver was well-meaning advice about taking charge of my attitude. When I talk about mindset, it’s not about finding the silver lining in everything or making lemonade out of lemons or whatever tired cliche you want to choose.

This is where setting intentions come in, versus the typical new year resolutions. Instead of making a hyper-specific goal, such as losing 20 pounds, you could set an intention for eating healthier food in 2019. This could include things like cooking healthy recipes at home, going to a farmer’s market, or tending to a garden at home.  By setting this intention and taking action on it, you may discover that you lose a few pounds along the way. If not, that doesn’t mean you failed. Eating more nutritious food has benefits beyond what you find on a scale.

You don’t need to attach numbers or due dates; intentions don’t expire but are often lifelong aspirations worth the time and effort invested.

For those caring for a loved one with dementia, consider an intention centered around collecting memories, which could include filling out the family tree and creating scrapbooks.  Self-care is another important intention that all of us should focus on in the new year. It’s one of those annoying buzzwords, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that caregivers have to find a way to recharge.

Those embarking upon the end-of-life phase as a caregiver may find that an intention centered around what a good death means to your loved one and family is useful during this challenging time.

Whether you call them intentions or resolutions, I hope that 2019 treats you and your loved ones well.

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A new year, sparked by old memories

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Many people use the new year to try and wipe the old slate clean, and create a new version of themselves that’s thinner or stronger or smarter. There’s nothing wrong with working out more, eating more broccoli and fewer doughnuts and resisting  vices. But what I’ve found in my 40-plus years is that the goals are less important than the journey we take each year on our life’s path.

Caregivers, former and present, understand that life can turn south at a moment’s notice, no matter what the calendar reads, and temporarily disrupt goals, dreams and projects. A “new normal” emerges, and it may not look like what one hoped for at the beginning of a new year. After my father died at the end of 2011, I thought there was a new beginning for my mom and myself, one in which every moment wasn’t spent worrying about my father’s well-being. But just six months later, Mom fell ill and wow, was I ever in for a change. I have no idea what my 2012 resolutions were, but they sure didn’t involve being a caregiver!

So I don’t make resolutions anymore, but I do have goals, which I’m all too aware are subject to change. I’m nearing the completion of my collection of caregiving essays, and I will be working on a prototype for my Respite Care Share concept, which will be presented at the Aging in America Conference in March. These things will keep me occupied for the year, and I’m sure other opportunities will come along the way. New opportunities, but tied to memories of my parents, their lives, the illnesses they battled, and their deaths. While the sharp turn in my life path in 2012 made no sense to me at the time, it got me to this place, where in 2017, I can hopefully give back a bit to the caregiving community.

There is much trepidation about 2017, even though for many, there is a great relief 2016 is coming to a close. Caregivers are survivors, a hardy bunch who push through and find a way to make it another day. Maybe 2017 is the year others will learn the value of caregivers in our society.

I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year.

 

 

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Lifting spirits as new year approaches

I know this has been a tough year for many of you who read my blog. We’ve had personal losses near and dear to our hearts. Thanks to all of those who read my posts and sent encouraging words, it is much appreciated. I hope for all of us a happier 2016.

After working a crazy month of overnight shifts, I ended up with a nice chunk of time off. If I’d known ahead of time, I could’ve planned a trip to Europe, but it being last minute, I considered closer-to-home options.

Then I realized I never made it to New Orleans.

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Many years ago, back in college, we drove through there, lost some money at the casino, and drove on. But ever since I found the letter in my dad’s belongings from The Roosevelt Hotel, proving that he worked there, I have wanted to visit the city and stay at the hotel. I decided to take the train, to give myself extra time to read and write.

Dad Roosevelt Hotel letter

I had an enjoyable trip and The Roosevelt is certainly a hotel to visit, especially at Christmas. I also got to do something in honor of my mom, which was to visit the butterfly garden at the Audubon Insectarium. It was beautiful, and to be surrounded by so many live butterflies was breathtaking. Mom would have loved it so much, and I have to believe that if reincarnation exists, she’s there, making the young and old alike smile.

I’m not big on resolutions, but while in New Orleans I had my oracle read (I also stopped in a church to light candles for my parents so I covered my spiritual bases.) Anyways, I don’t necessarily believe or disbelieve in oracle readings, it’s all just information to consider. The woman told me that I’ve been making little changes to my routine, and that I should continue to do that in the new year, as chance encounters may lead to greater insights.

And the truth is, I have been changing my routine. Ever since Mom died, I wanted to avoid getting into a rut. I wanted to try and appreciate each and every day more, and expose myself to new experiences. Not all of these were particularly exciting endeavors (working the graveyard shift) but certainly it offered a new way of looking how I organize my life what my priorities are.

So I will prod myself to keep experiencing the world in new ways, even if it’s just taking a different route home. There is much to gain even in the most mundane of activities.

If you have goals for the new year, I would love to hear about them.

 

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Preparing for a new year

As the old year winds down, many of us judge ourselves too harshly. Which new year’s resolutions did we fail to keep? What goals did we come up short on meeting?

And then we go and make new resolutions and goals and start the cycle all over again.

I’ve actually been feeling guilty about my shortcomings this year for awhile now. I’ve always been my harshest critic.

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I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to build a more lucrative freelance writing career this year, when I’ve been working from home full-time. I have one main writing gig right now, but it doesn’t pay nearly enough to pay the debt I accrued during Mom’s illness last year. The job market is tough, and I have been humbled and educated. So far, I’ve landed a few interviews but no job offers. I hope to be starting 2014 on a positive note because I have a job interview scheduled for the first week of the new year.

As for writing goals, I’ve pretty much met my goal of writing on this blog a couple of times per week. That includes reposting other people’s blogs, which I want to continue to do in the new year. The first year of The Memories Project, I focused on personal memories. This year I focused on awareness and activism. I’m still working on next year’s theme, but my general goal is to focus even more on the hopes, struggles and successes of other families dealing with dementia.

I think where I’m most disappointed is the novel. After Dad died, I had started working on a novel and had a pretty substantial outline developed. I even pitched the concept at a writer’s conference. Then Mom got sick. The agent I pitched the memoir concept to stated that the memoir market is oversaturated and I might want to consider converting my idea to fiction. I’ve had a whole year now to mull a new concept and I still haven’t fully formed a solid new outline, let alone written a complete novel like I had hoped. In 2014, I hope to complete that outline and begin novel writing in earnest.

On a positive note, I’ve written several poems and short stories and submitted them for publication. Have any of them been published? No, but I did get an anecdote about my mom included in an anthology, so I’m counting that as a publication credit!

I’m also disappointed that I didn’t do more to actively support Alzheimer’s awareness. I missed the local walk and I didn’t volunteer at a local nursing home like I wanted to. I did faithfully write to my congresspersons when Alzheimer’s-related funding bills were on the table. I’m also an active member of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry.

What are you most proud of this year and what do you plan on working on next year?

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