New Year = New Me?
Do you always buy into the whole “resolution” thing? Is it nagging at you? Have you been successful with resolutions in the past? If so, you are the only one I know who has. New Year, new habits, new ways of thinking, new action plan, be nicer, more tolerant, save money, lose weight, take a more active role with the relatives…or less… and the list goes on.
It’s a good reset time of year.
Can we think about it differently, perhaps, and not out of guilt or remorse? Is there a way to reframe adding in a new habit or practice, or letting go of one that serves us and others? As regards our family, in particular, our elder loved ones, are there ways that we could do things differently to meet the needs and still savor the relationship?
Surprise, surprise: I am going to say yes, yes there is.
If what tips you over the edge is the yard work or snow removal, can you delegate? If you can’t afford to outsource these tasks, are there volunteer groups in your town that would take them on? Church groups, veterans, scouts?
If you could get a grocery service to deliver weekly, and you just picked up the occasional extra, would that help? Could you call SeniorCare, Inc. in Gloucester and ask about what volunteer programs they might have, like bill paying support? Could you call the Council on Aging and find out what outings and transportation options there are?
“We just aren’t a family that does things that way. We always do everything ourselves.”
Ok. I get it. I hear you. But…is it working? Now? Today, with the life you have going on? Is there time for it all? You can’t delegate your personal touch or the way you care. No one is going to do that the way you do. But imagine: if you didn’t feel as if you had to “be it all” for your elder loved one, it might leave more time for a movie, card game, lunch, or dinner out. Fun. Togetherness. Enjoyment. Connection.
Maybe you have been putting off conversations that need to be had because they are difficult. It nags at you and is so uncomfortable that you ignore it. Too hot to touch. Could you write down all the things that bother you most, all the topics you can’t bear to bring to the table? Could you have someone help you prioritize them? Triage them? What’s on fire? What is potentially life-altering? Where do we NEED to start?
These come from a place of discomfort. Something inside says, “this has to change.” When it comes to our families, and our roles, it’s hard to break the “family rules.” Mom always took care of Gram. She never had any help, oh, unless you mean her four siblings who all chipped in. Being an only child…I guess it’s a little different for you. Oh, and she didn’t have a job outside the home, and you work 60 hours a week as a single parent of two grade-schoolers? Ok, so times have changed. It isn’t the same for you, as it was for her.
The good news here is that we have options.
We don’t have to solve problems in just one way. There is a lot of help out there these days when it comes to elder care. We can make resolutions about how we need to tackle certain things, but we don’t have to make these in a vacuum.
Start by identifying the issues that are bothering you. Name them. Be specific. Triage in terms of acuity. Don’t try to change or fix everything at once. Get help. Find experts that can be your guiding light (professional elder care experts or personal resources like clergy, therapists, or trusted others).
We have the freedom to make changes or tackle difficult issues at any time of year. If it feels right to you, to make “a resolution” as we turn the calendar forward, by all means. But don’t be pressured. When it comes to your elder loved ones, making changes or having those difficult conversations needs prep work.
Maybe for 2020, you decide to do the prep work and see where that leads.
Written by Joanne MacInnis, RN and Certified Dementia Practitioner.