Senior Life: Self resolutions for the New Year

-A A +A


The first week of the new year is behind us. It’s exciting to know opportunities will arise to better ourselves, to help others and to improve our own particular situations.

In addition to the usual list of resolutions – lose weight, start an exercise program, give more time to family and friends – consider adding the following to help gain more freedom and independence for yourself in the new year.

During the New Year, I will:

  • Plan for the unexpected. I will start the hard conversations with my family and friends to discuss care needs and wishes. I will start the arrangements which need to be made.
  • Have a Last Will and Testament completed or updated. Without a signed estate will, the courts will decide how to distribute your possessions to your loved ones.
  • Have Advanced Directives completed or updated. Make sure to give copies to your family physician, hospital and relatives who may need the forms in the event of an emergency.
  • Update and keep a record of where all-important documents are kept. In the event of an emergency, these documents could help to ease a potential burden on a spouse or other relatives.
  • Keep records of all medications and doctor’s appointments. Record the reason for the doctor’s visit, the doctor’s response, any medications prescribed or procedures performed.
  • Take charge of yourself. Even if you are married or involved in a relationship, and no matter your age, independence is essential for survival. Know how to maintain your home, your bank accounts, your health care and other personal affairs. Even if you are not physically capable of doing some of the tasks, know dependable people who can be called upon to help.

Everyone, regardless of age, can add these statements to their resolutions. By doing so, younger adults take more responsibility for themselves; older adults continue to make their own decisions and retain their independence.

Individuals who find themselves in the position of caregiver providing care to an older, frail or dependent family member, also must take the time to add resolutions to help themselves. These resolutions have dual benefits, helping the caregiver and the family member or loved one as well.

As a caregiver, I will:

  • Learn to take one hour out of each day just for myself. This is not being selfish; it will give me a chance to recharge. I need the time to be alone, to read, to enjoy a hot bath, to journal my thoughts or to call a friend.
  • See my own doctor for a physical exam and give my own health needs more priority.
  • Use respite care (scheduled breaks) at least once a month so that I may get a break and refresh myself. The time might be spent shopping, at church, at a movie or play, or just simply time alone, but it’s time that is well needed and deserved.
  • Seek out at least one new resource to support my caregiver role. The resources and services may come in the form of housekeeping, home delivered meals or other home care programs.
  • Reach out to other family members and friends to help with my loved one so that the weight of responsibility can be lifted and shared.
  • Attend at least one caregiver support group or training event to realize that I am not alone in my caregiving journey and that I can learn from others.
  • Seek spiritual support or counseling to gain perspective of my live and caregiving role. Emotional and mental health stability often help in the long haul of caregiving responsibility.
  • While many of these resolutions focus on one’s self, the rewards from achieving these resolutions will help others as balance and independence is gained and maintained. Go slowly with the resolutions, everything cannot possibly be achieved in a day or a month. It actually may take the full year to get one or a couple of these resolutions accomplished. The idea is not to overwhelm, but to begin.

A happy and healthy 2012 to you and your family.

 Contact Senior Life columnist Monica Ruehling at mruehling@thenewsenterprise.com.