What does the tolling of midnight and the opening of a new calendar mean to family caregivers and our senior loved ones?
Better yet, what can we make it mean?
Sure, there are some things beyond our control but so many things that we can at least influence by taking action. That goes for those on all sides of the senior care equation.
Only you know which actions can have meaning to you and those for whom you provide care, but we want to get the thought process started for you.
There are many resources and tools available to seniors and family caregivers that can make life better for those aging independently. Some of them may already be in use by your family, by you and/or your senior loved one, and already providing benefits — but others may not.
- Activate a connection to the world – and each other – through computers or mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Chances are those reading this are connected already (like the old “if you’re within the sound of my voice” from radio), but are there seniors or other family members in your life who are missing out? Much can be accomplished by taking this first step. Remember, though, it’s not enough to have a device; take responsibility for helping set up a new device to ensure each is able to put theirs to use!
- Become active on social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter. Put your digital devices to work connecting with friends, family, community and the world. We talk often about the benefits to seniors of social media and networking sites but it’s just as important for family caregivers to stay connected and not isolate themselves while throwing themselves into the giving of senior care.
- Get active, period. Exercise, even walking, can work wonders for the life and health of seniors and caregivers alike. Make some time each day to break away from other activities. You might do something along with your senior loved one and both benefit, such as a class, walk in the park or even a visit to the mall (you don’t have to spend money there!).
- Purchase and activate new wearable devices (think Fitbit, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone UP and others) to help measure and monitor weight, fitness, sleep and other activities for both you and your senior loved one. Beyond the specific functions and benefits you get from the device today, the biggest benefit may come from helping your senior loved one become comfortable and prepare for the coming wearable devices and monitors that will help them live independently and enjoyably longer than possible today.
- Take up an activity – maybe a hobby, a class, team sport or volunteer assignment. Yes, this can be both you and seniors in the family; whether the same activity or something different is up to you.
Sense a common theme in these ideas? Making the most of opportunities requires that we act. Have any ideas of your own? There must be something that works for you and your senior loved one. Again, it doesn’t have to be the same something for both of you.
Opportunities, challenges — are they the same to you? We know they are to many. Face it, if we didn’t find many of them challenging, we’d be doing them already and they would be opportunities for us, right.
The difference might just be in how we approach those things within our reach if we stretch. Maybe we don’t make that stretch if it’s just an opportunity out there but we really push ourselves that extra amount needed.
Challenge yourself (no, we’re not talking about that “R” word that is abused around New Year’s) to put in that extra effort, to take the action to turn the opportunities into benefits. Help senior loved ones change themselves as well.
Even better, challenge each other. It’s often more motivating to commit to our action in front of others. Entering into a joint challenge with seniors for whom we care has the added benefit of building one more bond, not to mention adding a new and different element to our caregiving role.
Yes, New Years is a time of hope for better things, times, health and life in the days and months ahead, but we’re talking even more than that.
Taking action to reach for opportunities, challenging ourselves, and joining loved ones in the pursuit of their challenges cause us to not just build hope but also help us make that for which we are hoping a reality.
The Senior Care Corner family hopes we can help make the coming year one of health and happiness for the seniors in your life — and for the family caregivers in their lives!