New Year's Goals
For older adults, making a New Year’s resolution can be a symbol of hope. Resolutions are a sign to their inner selves that they believe they will be around for the coming year to enact those changes.
The word “resolution” has gotten a stigma as something that people start on January 1st and break on January 2nd. Calling a resolution a goal might help everyone get out of the mindset that these are things you say only New Year’s Day. Goals can be set any time. You can help your loved one create some measurable goals for the coming year. In fact, helping them reach their goals might be a goal for yourself!
Make goals bite-sized and measurable. For example, instead of saying “lose weight,” set smaller monthly goals to eliminate one poor eating choice from your diet or add one extra daily activity. Losing weight will be a product of those goals, but not the goal itself.
Goals don’t have to be boring! Especially as we age, there are legacies to be passed down. Consider asking your family members to sit down with you (even virtually) each week to pass down recipes, stories, and lessons they’ve learned throughout their lives. This can be a great family activity that feels less like a resolution and more like the right thing to do.
Cleaning and Sorting – As we move through life, it’s easy to amass items that just don’t serve us anymore. As organizational expert Marie Kondo says, keep only those things that spark joy. Our homes should be a haven. That old vase you picked up in a thrift store on a whim, which is out only to be dusted, can probably go to someone who might value it more.
Technology – Video chats with family members can ease loneliness and allow us to keep an eye on them. Add a form of digital music, which has been proven to help with mental acuity and emotional happiness. Teaching your loved one how to email or text will allow them to connect with their peers more easily.
Exercise – Increasing exercise can be as simple as getting your loved one a pedometer and a goal for a certain number of steps each day. You can make it a competition, if that is something they’d enjoy, or a reward system where they earn something for achieving the daily goal.
Medications – As we age, there are an increasing number of medications to keep track of. A worthwhile goal is to take an annual look at the medications in your loved one’s home. Check to see that none are expired and there aren’t duplicates or varied dosages.
Vaccinations – If vaccinations are not on the annual schedule, it’s a good time to make sure that your loved one is up to date on the ones their doctor might recommend, such as flu, pneumonia, and shingles.
Legal Documents – While it seems like setting up a will or trust or other legal decisions might be a “one and done,” it is useful to review these documents annually. The people designated in these documents may no longer be in our lives or in a position to take on any responsibilities mentioned.
Bills – A great goal for a new year is to consolidate debt and to set up a plan for paying bills more efficiently. Scattered accounts can lead to financial mistakes and even fraud. If your loved one isn’t using autopay or bill pay systems, you can work with them to learn how to manage finances online.
If they are uncomfortable with the prospect of taking their account management online, a first step can be to set up smaller accounts, like utilities, to get them used to the process.
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