Caregiving in the New Year!

Happy New Year! Last year has come and gone, but the world of caregiving continues to be top of mind for all caregiver advocates. You may ask what has changed coming into the new year…well, for mankind, we will become a year older, but the needs for a care recipient remain the same. If you are blessed to be our angel on earth, maintaining a comfortable environment for loved ones must continue.

Remember, you are never alone. Caregiver support can be an ask away to family or friends, a caregiver website, or a phone call to your healthcare practitioner. Being a caregiver does not need to be a lonely existence. Asking for help seems difficult for many caregivers. I know why because I did not seek or ask for help when I needed it most. I had to convince myself that asking for help does not discount the role or ability. Thinking back, asking for help is one of the first things we learn to do growing up. One of the hardest things for many to do once becoming adults is to seek help from others. There comes a time when we all need support, and to receive that support, we must ask. No one knows what is required until you share. Eventually, we hurt ourselves and our loved ones by isolating and not reaching for help when necessary. No one is an island.

A word of advice. When you seek assistance, be specific with an action item. Avoid giving options. If you need someone to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy or change the bed linen, state the specific need, not the desired want. There is a difference between the two. Caregivers caring for others can decrease emotional burnout by being transparent and precise. Do not neglect self…remember self-care is NOT selfish!

As your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, let 2024 be the year of asking for help. The family and friends around us are resources in our lives. Caregivers, you benefit when you take advantage of the presence of others. Don’t make assumptions that support is not available. Be Safe! Be Well!

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.

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