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Posted: January 10, 2008

Spousal Caregiving

It's Not Too Late to Make Your New Year's 'Intentions'

Bill Andrew

As we all prepared for the New Year 2008, many of us would have made the traditional New Year's "resolutions." But as we all know, those "resolutions" tend to fall by the wayside within the first month or two of having made them. As family caregivers, we all resolve to provide the best possible care for our loved one -- that goes without saying. But many of those other "resolutions" -- although well-intended -- are not considered important enough to continue by many of us.

Rather than making resolutions, I would suggest that it is not too late to make New Year's "intentions" for you and your loved one. These "intentions" are most positive by nature and probably more doable by many of us who have our hands full as family caregivers for our loved ones. This was made apparent to me upon receipt of an e-letter that I recently received from the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA).

NCFA was founded in 1993 by Suzanne Mintz and Cindy Fowler -- two family caregivers who discovered similarities in their issues and concerns despite differences in their caregiving situations -- as an organization focused on addressing the issues and concerns common to all family caregivers. Today, 15 years later, NFCA is a premier family caregiver organization empowering family caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones -- and speaking up for family caregivers to remove the existing barriers to their health and well-being.

NFCA sponsors National Family Caregivers Month each November. This year, NFCA focused on the following aspects of family caregiving, which I think serve as good "intentions" for me as a 24/7 family caregiver. I want to share them with you and see what you think.

Believe in yourself. NFCA stresses the importance of trying to maintain a positive attitude by recognizing your strengths and limitations. By believing in yourself and recognizing you strengths and limitations, it will go a long way in your ability to set goals and boundaries for yourself and your loved one.

Protect your health. It is critically important to maintain your physical and emotional health and well-being -- if you don't, who will? Your good health is the greatest gift you can give your loved one and your entire family.

Reach out for help. Reaching out for help is never a sign of weakness; rather, it demonstrates strength and a keen awareness of your own abilities and sense of self.

Speak up for your rights. NFCA encourages and stresses the importance of arming yourself with vital information regarding your loved one's diagnosis and treatment options. Having the proper information is the gold standard in achieving the ability to advocate for your loved one and developing strong self-advocacy skills. By keeping the goal of receiving quality healthcare and making it a priority, you can avoid future medical problems and create a superior quality of life for all involved.

Don’t consider these points as "resolutions" but rather as "intentions" you can achieve for the benefit of both you and your loved one. Good luck and let me know how you make out. Happy New Year!

Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions. I will include them in a future column with your permission. Provide your full name and address. In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state. Thank you.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"Happiness depends upon ourselves."

Aristotle (384-322 BC)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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