Whether we call them resolutions, goals, or 2019 to do list-it’s about wanting to do new things in a new year. But change can be difficult. This saying summed it up for me this week- “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” So, if we want to accomplish something new in 2019, something must change, difficult or not.
Welcome to 2019! The onset of a new year causes many of us to make a fresh start in some way or another. New projects, attitudes and goals abound. As our family discussed 2019 goals recently, our daughter reminded us to be specific in order to achieve them. I love how our children can be our best teachers!
Often, we have a great idea or desire to change but get stuck because we don’t know how to start, measure our progress, stay the course or finish well. This and other reasons cause many who make resolutions to never realize their goals. It’s said many will give up on a New Year’s resolution by mid-February. That’s not very inspiring.
My daughter’s comment reminded me of an acronym (you know how I love this memory technique) about goals. They should be SMART! For goals to be achieved, should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Let’s break down this great way to think about goals.
Specific-I have one goal that’s big and a bit of a stretch. I’d love to jump in, but because it’s so new to me, I’m not exactly sure how to make it specific and can’t measure if it’s not specific. Often big goals like this have a series of smaller goals and/or projects which need to occur along the way. In order to make it specific, I’ll need to make a series of smaller, mini-goals around the projects needed to achieve the larger goal.
For example, if a “better memory” is your goal-it can be made more specific by breaking it into parts like “I’ll remember new people’s names the next time I see them.” This smaller mini-goal may also need steps to implement such as identifying key memory techniques to use, being prepared to write things down, or practicing focused attention. Writing down all the steps will help dissect any big goal into small parts to make it more specific. It also will create a doable list of action items which will be easier to focus on and implement toward progress.
Measurable-In order to see if we are making progress, we need to be able to measure how well we’re doing. If trying to lose weight, stepping on the scale once a week is an easy way to measure progress. But what about something a bit more global like that “better memory”? Breaking it into remembering new names is specific, but how will it be measured? Be creative and address the actual goal. For this, it could be daily writing down the names of anyone new. Review them, use memory techniques and see how many you can recall. Make it measurable by taking a few moments each day and week to track your progress-you’ll be motivated to continue working hard as you see some progress!
Even when we make our goals specific and measurable, we are only beginning. We can still get sidetracked and lose our focus. Next week, we’ll discuss the ART of SMART Goals and the “ART” of how to stay on track.
Goals are often personal but many times a little accountability goes a long way toward progress. It helps us stay the course and encourage one another. A personal goal of mine is to encourage others in my life and that includes you! I hope you set some SMART goals and if you need a little accountability along the way, feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to encourage you!
I’m also excited about a training I’m taking by my friend Christa which begins next week. Join us and let’s keep each other accountable to our goals! Check out the details on the Move Forward Mastermind training here.
Let’s be SMART and get moving on our goals to make 2019 our most memorable year yet!
*Disclosure: If you purchase from links that I send, I may receive some kind of affiliate commission. I will only promote products that I personally use or recommend without hesitation. Thanks for your support.
The holidays bring their own certain kind of stress. For a person experiencing memory issues and those who love them, it can ramp up to unforeseen levels. This stress only increases memory problems and the correlating domino effect that creates. Caregivers feel it too, even more so than their loved ones at times.
Loving and caring for someone with memory problems can be draining, especially at the holidays, but there are ways to help. Here are a few tips to help those with memory loss at holidays or anytime:
- Manage Expectations. Don’t expect loved ones to remember every family story, holiday tradition or great grandchild’s name. It’s not that they don’t want to, or can’t remember some part of it, it’s that in that moment they literally can’t or it may take some additional time. Which leads us to…
- Be Patient! Older adults and especially those with memory issues need additional time to process, function, and remember. They may be able to recall that same memory, but they won’t if stressed or pressed to do so. Be patient with them and yourself in all things.
- Pick and Choose. Some traditions are great and always appreciated at holiday time. Others may create more stress than is needed or wanted this time of year and season of life. It’s okay to pick and choose the people, events, and timing to best suit your loved one’s needs and abilities.
- Redirection Helps More than Correction. If a loved one can’t remember, it’s helpful to redirect to another subject if the recall is causing stress. Correcting them or being impatient only creates more stress and anxiety for everyone. Eventually they may remember, but maybe instead we ask ourselves which is more important the memory or the person.
- Be Present. This is helpful for everyone. Those with memory issues often have good moments as well as bad. Being present in the good will allow all to enjoy that precious time (and create more positive memories for the caregiver and family in the future). Being present in the bad moments will allow all to feel valued and assist in being aware of any limitations or progression of symptoms.
Life with memory loss affects not only the person experiencing it, but all those who love and care for them. It’s not an easy road but still can be one full of memorable moments to be cherished. As a caregiver myself, I can testify to this truth. To that end, after a season of care giving and loss, I’ll be taking a brief break from the blog to fully be present with my loved ones this holiday season. I’ll be back in a few weeks with more memory wellness insights, tips and strategies.
Until then, I wish you all a blessed and very memorable holiday season full of love, hope, joy, and peace.
In honor of National Family Caregivers month wrapping up this week, I’m revisiting portions of a post I originally published here a few years ago. I’ve learned even more since then and have included those additional insights. Family care giving is close to my heart as it’s been one of my roles a number of times now. Knowing how to care for myself as I cared for others was a godsend and I hope this information can be of assistance to many of you now or in the future.
Many of us care for others but don’t realize we are caregivers. We see it as our job or role as a parent, child, spouse, doctor, nurse, social worker, home health aide, therapist, teacher, manager, employer, you name it. But the giving our time, efforts and ourselves can be draining. How we care for ourselves while caring for others is often overlooked and something we all need to pay attention to, caregiver or not.
Caregivers who are paid for their efforts may think their work is done when they head home. But many of us go home to care for children, parents or other loved ones. One thing is common among caregivers: we typically put our own needs last. This may be a noble or loving gesture, but often it’s done out of a sense of duty, lack of resources or just not enough hours in the day. Whatever the reason, the practice of always putting others first as a caregiver causes undue stress. Caregiver stress is a growing national problem, one that is responsible for illness, depression and financial burden.
Caregiver stress begins to manifest in many ways: increased irritability, lack of interest in life, high blood pressure, headaches, weight gain or shallow breathing which can all eventually lead to further health issues. When a caregiver is ill, it creates even more stress not only on them but also who they are caring for-it’s a vicious cycle. This stress is a growing issue in our communities and the sooner we address it, the sooner everyone’s quality of life will improve.
- Ask for Help-As Caregivers, we think we need to do it all. But we don’t. Getting assistance from others can initially be a bit more stressful, but typically brings a needed respite. If you are a caregiver and don’t know where to turn for help, ask medical, legal, or social professionals in your area for information on resources available. There are often many paid and volunteer options. Asking family and friends to assist is also a great option. In stressful situations, many people want to help but don’t know what is needed. Allow others to help. But the first step is to ask.
- Take a breath-literally and figuratively. When caring for ill loved ones. I didn’t have time for a haircut, let alone consistently exercise, cook healthy meals or do something for myself. Sometimes, all I could do was take a deep breath. In those deep breath moments, I often prayed and found what I needed to move on. Taking time for ourselves is crucial, but those moments can be elusive. A deep breath, a few minutes of fresh air or even being in the bathroom alone can be rejuvenating. Take a moment (or two if possible) for yourself. Regroup, pray, calm yourself and breathe-you will put more oxygen into your body and brain to think and act clearly. Do it for yourself and those you care for.
- Assess your system(s). As we care for others, or even just ourselves, we develop certain ways of doing things, honed over time or necessity. But as life changes so must our way of doing things. The same way is not always the best way and different is not always bad. Fresh eyes can often bring new and needed perspective. But change is difficult, especially as we get older. Embrace change in a positive manner and over time if necessary. It may involve letting go of some patterns, people or projects to add new or needed change.
- Don’t neglect your own health. It’s important to keep our own doctor’s appointments, make time to exercise, eat and sleep well, and have a few moments to ourselves each day. If we don’t, nagging issues can turn into chronic problems which will only compound our care giving responsibilities. This is where family and friends or adding some volunteer or paid assistance is a beneficial use of resources. Taking care of the caregiver is a wise investment.
Caring for others is a joy for many of us. We see it as our life’s work and/or a precious season of life. But always giving from an unfilled bucket will eventually leave us drained. We are only given one life to live. Let’s make all our moments memorable not only for ourselves but those we care for as well.
It happens earlier each year. The onslaught of Christmas shopping ads, music, and food begins in November. It’s even oozed into October and September. But let’s not get so excited for what’s next that we forget to remember thankfulness.
I can’t blame them. Unless you’re a retailer associated with food, Thanksgiving is not a very marketable holiday. It doesn’t involve much buying or selling (other than all that yummy food). No, Thanksgiving is and should be about a feeling, a sentiment, dare I say an attitude of thankfulness. Yet so often we miss this feeling in the the seasonal frantic, food, football, and yes, even family as we gather on Thanksgiving.
Thankful and grateful are often used interchangeably. But both depict an attitude, one that often gets overlooked. Yet it’s also one we can cultivate on a daily basis. I’ve completed gratitude journals and written daily notes of thankfulness-both wonderful exercises. But it was a choice to do this, just like our overall attitude is a choice.
Interestingly, many older adults who choose to have sunnier, thankful attitudes about life are often those who age well with better cognitive function. Could it be that their attitude helps them with their memory? Hmmm, seems this could be one more reason to choose a more thankful and positive attitude.
Maybe it’s because I host our Thanksgiving gathering, but the rush past thankfulness bothers me. In our haste to jump into the rest of the season, we miss the wonderful opportunity to share with those we care about how grateful we are for them, take stock of life and simply give thanks. Society has literally given us a day set apart from the hustle and bustle of the season, yet so many get caught up in Black Friday frenzy, focus on the food and forget thankfulness.
Instead, let’s choose to remember.
Remember the good, learn from the bad, and be thankful in and for it all. An attitude of thankfulness will serve us (and our memories) well, on Thanksgiving and all year long. But it’s a choice. Choosing a grateful attitude doesn’t dismiss what’s wrong or skip over hurt, anger or pain. It simply is a choice to be grateful for what we have and pause to honor it.
There’s plenty of time for the rest of the craziness, joy, and merriment of the holiday season. Take a few moments or the whole day this Thanksgiving. Let’s not jump ahead and forget, but pause and remember thankfulness.