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Posted: December 29, 2005

Spousal Caregiving

10 Tips for Making Your Caregiving New Year's Resolutions

Bill Andrew

2006 is just around the corner! Have you made your personal New Year’s resolutions? Have you made your spousal caregiving New Year resolutions for 2006? I have -- my personal New Year resolutions are the same as my spousal caregiving resolutions. 
 
The reason: my personal life is wrapped up in my 24/7 caregiving requirements for my wife, Carol, who has late-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
 
If you have not yet made your spousal caregiving resolutions, it is not too late. This column will provide you with some suggestions for making your own spousal caregiver resolutions as well as the spousal caregiver resolutions I have made for 2006.
 
Chances are that, at many times in your life, you have made New Year’s resolutions -- and then broken some, if not all of them, before the end of January. I know that I have. But it is never too late to try; each day is a new day to resolve to make life as pleasant as possible for our loved one. This year, especially for you as a spousal caregiver, let us try to stop the cycle of resolving to make changes in our lives -- but then not following through for whatever reason.
 
Consider the following 10 tips:
  • Be realisticThe surest way to fall short of your objectives is to make those objectives difficult to attain or, in fact, unattainable. Write them down.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make your resolutions.   Consider each resolution very carefully over a period of a week or so before making your firm resolutions.
  • Outline your plan. Decide just how you will overcome temptation to break each resolution. Perhaps sharing with a support group can help you to keep those spousal caregiving resolutions.
  • Make a “pro” and “con” list for each resolution. Set up a log with a separate page for each resolution listing the pros and cons for keeping that resolution. Refer to this list whenever you need help in keeping your resolution. Also list those occasions when you have failed and what you are doing about renewing those resolutions.
  • Talk about your resolutions. Do not keep your resolutions a big dark secret in the recesses of your soul. Share them with your loved one, your family, your friends, your support group. After all, what you are doing is resolving to provide better care for your loved one -- and isn’t that what spousal caregiving is all about?
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate your successes by treating yourself to something that you enjoy -- perhaps a special outing with your loved one, if feasible.
  • Track your progress. Keep track of each small success and each dismal failure in the log suggested above. Small successes will make it easier to accomplish your resolution objectives and will also help to keep you motivated. Dismal failures can be turned into small successes by trying again -- and again -- if necessary.
  • Don’t get frustrated. Obsessing over an occasional slip will not help you to achieve your overall objectives. Do the best that you can, one day at a time.
  • Stick to your resolutions. Experts say that it takes about 21 days for any new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of our personality.
  • Keep trying. If your resolutions have not been achieved by the end of February, don’t despair. Start over! Is there any reason that a New Year’s resolution can't be made any time of the year for your spouse?
My 2006 personal and spousal caregiver New Year resolutions come from something that I read on one of the many family caregiving websites:
  • I resolve to take better care of myself.
  • I resolve to ask for help when needed.
  • I resolve to accept help when offered.
  • I resolve to not be afraid to ask questions.
  • I resolve to forgive myself for not being more patient with my spouse, Carol (here you can insert your own reason).
  • I resolve to forgive Carol for not responding like I would like her to (here you can insert your own reason).
  • I resolve to accept Carol as she is.
  • I resolve to seek out and use respite care services when I need a break.
  • I resolve to seek out and attend support groups for my spouse's illness.
  • I resolve to learn everything that I can about my spouse's illness so I can be a better spousal caregiver.
The difference between good intentions (resolutions) and failed intentions (resolutions) comes down to one thing: the recognition that self-change is one of the most difficult things that we can do. Between the way we are now and the image of our future self lies the great inhibitor -- our ingrained habits! It’s not that change is impossible but that it isn’t likely to last very long unless our resolutions are fortified with lesson plans for implementation as described above. We have to detail exactly how we are going to achieve these resolutions. We have to make our intentions (resolutions) manageable by detailing specific steps that will carry us to our objective – to become a better caregiver for our spouses. 
 
Have you made your 2006 spousal caregiving New Year’s resolutions? I have! And now it’s your turn. Would you like to share your spousal caregiving New Year’s resolutions, your successes, and your failures, with our readers?  If so, drop me an e-mail message at ASKBill@caregivershome.com and I will include them in a future column.

 

 
WORDS TO CARE BY ...

"We will continue to fulfill the vows we have made… keep your vows, carry out your resolutions. "

(Jeremiah 44:25)


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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© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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