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No doubt this new year feels different. After living in a pandemic for two years many long for a fresh, more positive direction. Check out these 5 useful goals for family caregivers. 

In 2020 we had no idea what was in store.  In 2020 the stresses and fears of the pandemic magnified how hard it is to maintain loving care when so much is happening around us. For caregivers, it is essential to look at the year with hope and positive outlook. This article is all about useful goals for family caregivers to pursue this 2023.

Why is it important to set goals?

Goals are motivating. The human brain responds to goal-setting by increasing one’s inspiration. When you set a goal, you represent achievement within your brain. People who set goals have more motivation to complete tasks that lead them to success. This is known as intrinsic motivation — behavior driven from within yourself. This type of motivation creates a strong drive for task-driven behavior, increases your interest in the behaviors you need to manifest to succeed, and improves your ability to retain what you learn as you navigate the journey toward reaching your goal. You are switched “on.”

Goal Setting for Family Caregivers

This year, prioritize by taking a moment to reflect, considering how you can adapt your loved one’s care plan to meet their and your own needs better. Goal setting is an excellent way to establish a clear plan of action while sparking motivation, so why not write down two to three clear, achievable goals for the rest of 2023? These goals might be focused on improving your loved one’s care, taking care of your mental and physical health, or making life practically easier for you as a family caregiver. If you are stuck for inspiration, here are five great goals that may benefit you and your senior loved one!

1. Make small changes to improve the safety of your relative’s home. As your loved one ages, their home environment may present an increasing number of barriers for them to overcome. Whether it is a narrow, winding staircase, a low bathtub, or uneven surfaces, it may be helpful to consider how the home can be adapted to make it easier for your loved one to navigate. For more detailed advice on how your loved one’s home can be modified to meet their individual needs, seek advice from an occupational therapist, your local Local Area on Aging Agency, or your loved one’s physician for professional assistance.

2. Make plans for future care. Even with all the home adaptations in the world, there sometimes comes the point when it is safer for an aging senior to move to a residential assisted living community with 24/7 professional care and support available. If your loved one could benefit from this type of care at some point in the future, it is worth starting your research early and begin planning for admission with the chosen facility. It is always challenging to bring up the subject of moving your loved one from their home to a residential assisted living facility. Rest assured, the earlier you begin looking around, the higher your chances of finding a community they will love.

3. Practice self-love and kindness. Family caregivers are selfless and endlessly giving by nature. It is essential to recognize your efforts and grant yourself the love and appreciation you genuinely deserve. Self-love is profoundly personal and can comprise both physical and mental acts. Try setting a goal to do something just for you each day (or week – whatever feels achievable!) For example, you might wish to take 10 minutes each day to read a book for your enjoyment. Like the book authored by Eleanor Gaccetta, “One Caregiver’s Journey,” which was born with personal memories, insight, and advice for caregivers on how to Preserve Caregiver’s Mental Health. This book is truly a snapshot of the realities, changes, and challenges of caregiving. Here, mentally pay attention to your internal monologue. Ensure you speak kindly of yourself, acknowledging the sacrifices you make for your loved one out of the kindness of your heart. Remember that being a family caregiver is not about perfection and that doing your best is more than enough.

4. Harness technology to help with your loved one’s care. Modern technology can be a true blessing when it comes to senior care. Something as simple as teaching your relatives to use FaceTime or Zoom could allow family members to check in on them when they cannot visit in person. If your loved one agrees, it could also be beneficial to fit security cameras in or outside the home (as well as alarm buttons), so you can check in on them and monitor who all activity on their property.

5. Seek out social, emotional, and practical support. Many family caregivers hesitate to seek empirical consent for their loved one’s care. They feel they do not want to burden others by sharing the emotional journey family caregiving can present. But seeking practical and emotional support as a family caregiver is vital and can help make the demands of caregiving feel much more manageable. Take some time to think about the support you would benefit most from. 

Your Next Step  If you feel stressed right now, you are not alone. While goal-setting may feel like one more thing, these simple and practical suggestions offer a great return on investment. And goal-setting itself can contribute to a more positive and motivated mindset

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