New Year’s Resolution Ideas for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

For caregivers, setting goals for the coming year might look a little different

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by Ray Burow |

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How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Caregivers are some of the most resolved people, but resolutions can easily escape us. Maybe the goals we set are too lofty. Also, providing care for a loved one requires a lot of energy. So what type of resolution can a caregiver make?

If you’re a caregiver, did you decide to get away more often, make new friends, or be more patient with your loved one? If so, how many have fallen by the wayside? It’s still early in the year, so there’s no need to feel guilty, but reassessing your goals might help to keep you on track.

I used to make resolutions for my children when they were young and constantly learning something new. The resolutions were clear goals that I would help each child accomplish in the new year.

The little ones were oblivious to the plans, so I suppose the resolutions were more for me than them, but the tasks helped to prepare them for their next steps. They gained confidence as goals were accomplished. One year I resolved that they’d learn to tie their shoes. With practice, little fingers became agile and adept at tying laces; tying bows and similar skills came next.

As a caregiver, what if you could give similar support to your loved one? It’s true that a parent or spouse with Alzheimer’s disease has a limited cognitive ability to learn new things. But your focus can be on making resolutions that bring them joy, and their success is your success, too. Following are a few ideas.

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Encouraging independence

For someone who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, independence is fleeting. But resolving to provide your loved one with choices extends autonomy — or at least the feeling that accompanies it. Allow your loved one to make decisions by providing them with simple choices. For instance, rather than choosing an outfit for them to wear, pull out two and let them choose.

Your loved one may need a bit of help getting dressed each day. Sometimes it’s not dementia that hinders them from accomplishing the task, but rather dexterity. Aged fingers find it difficult to manipulate small buttons or pull up zippers. Purchasing elasticized pants, blouses with large buttons, and pullover shirts can make a difference.

Arthritic fingers can manipulate large buttons more easily, and a pullover shirt gives your loved one a measure of independence.

Meal preparation is one of the many responsibilities of a caregiver. Believe it or not, some seniors miss planning and making three square meals a day. This loss is another chink in the armor of independence. Your loved one may not be able to stand over a hot stove anymore, but they can still choose what they’d like to eat.

Just as deciding what to wear each day provides a little independence, choosing between chicken and beef or baked or mashed potatoes gives them autonomy. Some things are nonnegotiable, such as when and how to take medications, but with most decisions, there’s wiggle room.

My mother continued to make small decisions into the late stages of Alzheimer’s. She was mostly successful at choosing which shoes to wear and what clothes to put on each day. Because we limited the number of choices, she seldom needed help dressing.

Providing doable tasks

Resolving to provide our loved ones with choices and doable tasks in the new year is one way to restore independence. It may seem like a small thing, but given the magnitude of the loss, even independence in small doses can make a difference.

Happy belated New Year!

Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.


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