Life is full of traditions, many handed down through the years, and some newly created between families and friends. Either way, traditions are part of the colorful fabric that intertwine our lives and hold us together, transcending time and distance. One common tradition many people have is to make New Year’s resolutions – promises of actions to make ourselves better, happier and healthier; and commitments to keep in touch, to quit bad habits, and to pursue the good things in life. Making New Year’s resolutions is easy and can be quite fun. The hard part is putting those resolutions into action and maintaining the momentum to keep those promises throughout the year.
This year, try something different. When making your list of resolutions, think of ways to involve family members and friends as support. Whether you live near or far, deciding to join forces and make New Year’s resolutions together increases the odds that you stay true to your goals. Providing accountability for each other presents not only valuable reinforcement, but also offers the opportunity of staying in touch on a regular basis throughout the year. New Year’s resolutions made together can be especially important if you have a senior in your life. By helping each other, you each gain a greater sense of purpose, which can be very meaningful in the life of a loved one who is growing older.
Comfort Keepers® is known for enriching the lives of seniors through Interactive Caregiving™. Research indicates that keeping seniors physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally engaged can help them retain better cognitive function, stay healthier and live independently longer.
For 2011, Comfort Keepers introduces several unique New Year’s resolutions to make with your senior loved ones. These resolutions promise to keep you connected, in touch, and in tune with each other the entire year long.
- Start a letter journal. Handwritten letters have nearly become a thing of the past, thanks to the Internet. However, our seniors are from an era when writing letters by hand was an important and valued form of etiquette – a more personal way of keeping in touch. Purchase a bound journal and write a letter inside, then give it to your loved one who will write a letter to you and return the journal. The same can be done with individual letters written back and forth and pasted into the journal. The process repeats throughout the year, or until the journal is full. Sharing a letter journal with your loved one is a unique way to strengthen your connection, and for you to get to know each other better. An added perk is the excitement of looking forward to receiving “real” mail. You find yourselves thinking of each other more often…and contemplating what bit of news to share in the next letter!
- Plan to age gracefully. Growing old has advantages, as well as a few disadvantages, such as wrinkles, gray hair and changes our bodies undergo in the process. It is never too late to decide to pursue a healthy lifestyle, which increases the odds of aging gracefully. Plan to exercise often, eat nutritious foods and to encourage each other while doing so. If you live near your beloved senior, take walks or participate in a group exercise class together. Even if your senior lives far away, you can take walks during the same time of day and talk on the phone to plan healthy meals and other activities.
- Share your favorite recipes. Exchanging healthy recipes can help your elderly loved one eat more nutritious meals and gives you the opportunity to ensure they are eating well. The bonus is receiving favorite family recipes from your loved one that have been passed down through the generations!
- Get tech savvy. Believe it or not, seniors are the fastest growing segment of computer users. If Grandma and Grandpa do not already have a computer, now is the time to expand their horizons! It might seem a bit intimidating at first, but once they are comfortable their prowess might surprise you. Communication and trading pictures becomes a snap, and imagine being able to see each other over a web cam if you live apart! The grandkids can relay their adventures, and you all get the pleasure of seeing each other laugh! You also get the chance to observe the general appearance of the senior, and to check for signs of good or failing health.
- Talk about the hard stuff. This resolution may not be fun, but it is the most important of all. While your senior is able, help set standards of care they desire should they become incapacitated later. Form plans within your family as to who might become the caregiver or if an outside source, such as Comfort Keepers, will be hired. Talking about estate planning and wills, along with other related issues helps prepare you all for the inevitable. Discussing these things in advance ensures that your loved one’s wishes are recorded and understood by all.
Making New Year’s resolutions together creates just one more common bond within important relationships and allows you to get to know each other better. Use the above ideas, or create commitments that are unique to your situation, to involve your loved one and help each other reach your goals. Strengthen your relationships and show your love…all year long.