Resolutions, January Fresh Starts
January is the time we are all looking for a fresh start. I seem stuck on resolutions this year, though I’m not sure why. They’re not usually something I’m into. Trust me, I’m not a stickler for them, so don’t be scared I’m setting some impossible bar.
I’ve read over twenty articles about New Year resolutions for seniors and for caregivers. Most caregivers are seniors so the lists overlap. What I found interesting is how similar each list is. A few have something novel but every one I read has the following:
Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
That’s not that hard, right? Fresh fruit doesn’t need “fixing.” You can buy pre-mixed salads if you don’t like making your own but even if you start from scratch a salad is easy. Make it fun by adding fresh herbs, a few berries, a chopped apple or some sliced almonds. We’ve started roasting veggies like cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. With a bit of olive oil drizzled over them and balsamic vinegar and some herbs sprinkled on, they’re pretty good.
I’m not sure why, but my parents only like white bread, now. Since they’re in their 90’s I figure they can eat white bread if they like. My husband and I still eat whole grain. Tuna fish is an easy, inexpensive way to add more fish to your diet. Personally, tuna and egg with some mayo and mustard, lettuce and tomato on whole grain bread is an ideal lunch for me.
Eggs are not the villains as casted, some years ago. They have a lot of protein and only 70 calories in a hard-boiled egg. Since we have chickens, eggs are a staple in our diet.
Every list included exercise. Exercises that strengthen your core, improve balance and stamina are all good. I am not good at exercising in the wintertime. In summer I swim regularly, but I am always stumped for an exercise routine in winter. I don’t like walking in the rain. We live too far away from any gyms and I’m too cheap to pay for them. I do best at exercise videos but I don’t keep them up. So my main exercise is caregiving. What do you do?
Use your brain.
Learn a new skill. If you like to do puzzles, switch them up. Doing the same type of puzzle every day apparently doesn’t give your brain a workout. If you like crosswords, add Sudoku and increase the difficulty level. Take a class or learn a new hobby. Interact with other people. I do puzzles everyday but frankly, I think researching and writing give my brain a better workout. I sill do the puzzles, though, because they’re fun.
Prepare for the future.
Clean out your closets and junk drawers, and get rid of excess stuff. Label important photos so when you’re gone, your kids know who those people are. Get your affairs in order like your will, make sure your kids know your wishes for the future. If you’re a caregiver, you know the things you wish your parents or the person you care for, could have done to make your life easier. Do that for your family. Have those hard conversations now, so your kids don’t have to bring it up.
Keep up or start-up social activities
Social activity improves your quality of life. More than that, it takes you out of yourself. It helps with loneliness and gives you the opportunity to see you aren’t the only one with health problems, elder care issues and the general vagaries of life. (I had a typo in the last sentence, “it helps with looniness” and that’s true too.!) Invest time in friendships. If you’re a caregiver, plan now for some time away to meet and spend time with friends.
These are the recurring items on every list. Some have a few more items such as “get tech savvy” (not sure what they mean), keep a journal, plan to age gracefully, ask for help if you need it, get routine medical care and testing done. Many lists advise fall-proofing your home. If you’re a caregiver, especially in your own home, I assume you have already done this.
I would add, set some spiritual goals for the new year. Choose a reading plan for the year. Study a devotional book. Plan to attend or teach a Bible study. Set up a regular time for prayer and meditation.
Above all, allow yourself to fail. You won’t keep every good intention. Life interferes. The unexpected happens when you least expect it. Tell yourself it’s OK to set aside a resolution for now, start over, or just give yourself flexibility. Live by grace, not by rules.
Have the best caregiving year,