Connect with others who understand.

sign up log in
About myALZteam

Setting Intentions for 2020 as an Alzheimer's Caregiver

Posted on January 06, 2020

Eat healthier. Exercise more. Learn a new skill. Pay off a credit card. Many of us have made similar New Year’s resolutions over the years. And many of us have also ended January feeling like failures because we didn’t follow through perfectly. We may feel even more discouraged if our goal was linked to improving how we manage caregiving for a spouse or parent with Alzheimer's.

The problem isn’t that we failed at our resolutions. The problem is that the resolution framework failed us. Resolutions are often binary goals - this or that. Yes or no. Either you went to the gym five days a week or you didn’t. Either you quit smoking or you didn’t. These yes-or-no set-ups can make us feel like losers if we don’t attain perfection. This is true for anyone, but black-and-white goals can be even more challenging when life as a caregiver throws curveballs. Taking over financial responsibilities from your loved one and managing Alzheimer's symptoms can make it more difficult to stick to a new workout routine or keep up a volunteer commitment. An advancement in Alzheimer's stages may send New Year’s resolutions right out the window.

2020 can be different. Instead of choosing a New Year’s resolution, consider adopting a New Year’s intention. Intentions and resolutions have similarities - both require us to reflect on our lives and identify areas we’d like to improve. But intentions can be more successful than resolutions because they give us the space to work towards progress, even if progress isn’t a straight line.

Intentions account for the reality that habits don’t change overnight. Research from the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it can take people anywhere from 18 days to eight months to create a new habit. And that’s ok - the study found that missing opportunities to follow through did not prevent people from achieving consistency over time, provided they tried again. In other words, if you’ve had trouble asking for help or arranging for respite care to take care of your mental and emotional well-being, give it another go with a new attitude.

Here are some suggestions for setting intentions that can help improve your physical and emotional well-being:

Find Your “Why”
It’s easy to pick a resolution based on perceived shortcomings, but focusing on your why - your deeper priorities - can make a bigger impact on your overall quality of life. Here are some examples of transitioning from resolutions to intentions that reflect a deeper purpose:

  • “I resolve to lose 20 pounds” becomes “I intend to take steps to increase the energy I have to spend with loved ones.”
  • “I will attend every book club meeting” becomes “I intend to invest more time in my friendships.”
  • “I will pay off a credit card” becomes “I intend to focus my spending on the bills and purchases that have the greatest impact on my life.”
  • “I will stop gossiping” becomes “I will focus on the goodness in others.”

Once you’ve identified your deeper purpose, you can focus on small actions that will support your why. And when you stumble, you can return to your why to renew your motivation.

Lay the Groundwork for Change
Depending on your intention, you may want to consult your doctor to develop a plan. If you’d like to gain more energy, your doctor can help you decide which types of exercise or nutritional plans are best for any health conditions you might have. Your doctor may also suggest working with a physical therapist or nutritionist to support your New Year’s intention. You may also need to connect with friends, family, or Alzheimer's resources in your area to find additional support if your intentions require taking breaks from full-time caregiving.

Build in Short-Term Rewards
Research from the University of Chicago and Cornell University found that people are better at sticking to goals that yield long-term benefits if they can experience short-term rewards along the way. For example, the study found that people were more likely to eat green vegetables if they found enjoyable ways to prepare them than if they only ate them for health benefits. You can apply the same principle to your intentions.

Show Yourself Compassion
Accept that you won’t always live up to your intentions. Be kind to yourself when you fall short. If you find yourself beating yourself up, stop and think about what you would say to a friend or other member of myALZteam in your shoes. Would you knock them down or encourage them to try again? Be as understanding and supportive to yourself as you would to someone else.

Do you have an intention for 2020? Share your hopes for the new year with other members on myALZteam.

A myALZteam Member said:

They sleep more because they are using their minds more/ harder just to live. I refer to it as resting his brain. When he wakes and wants to eat I don’t… read more

posted 2 months ago

hug (11)

Recent articles

Care for the alzheimer's caregiver
In this guest post, myALZteam member Tiffany Gustafson shares about the self-care and...

Care for the Alzheimer's Caregiver

In this guest post, myALZteam member Tiffany Gustafson shares about the self-care and...
Managing money for a loved one with alzheimer%e2%80%99s
Taking over financial responsibility from a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be among the most...

Managing Money for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s

Taking over financial responsibility from a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be among the most...
Your answers  the worst alzheimer's advice
We asked and you answered! We posted this question: What bits of "advice" do you wish people...

Your Answers: The Worst Alzheimer's Advice (Infographic)

We asked and you answered! We posted this question: What bits of "advice" do you wish people...
Mht infographic symptoms myalzteam
Below the surface, our loved ones living with Alzheimer's experience days that vary: days of...

Alzheimer's: What People Don't See (Infographic)

Below the surface, our loved ones living with Alzheimer's experience days that vary: days of...
Mht af justdiagnosed caregiver
We all respond differently to information about our health. After learning your spouse, parent,...

Your Loved One Has Just Been Diagnosed With Alzheimer's. Now What?

We all respond differently to information about our health. After learning your spouse, parent,...
Mht article directness alz 2 5
Being a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer's disease can mean having limited energy, time,...

Tap Into the Power of Directness: Use "I"

Being a caregiver for someone who has Alzheimer's disease can mean having limited energy, time,...
Assisted living and alzheimers
Deciding to transition a loved one into an assisted living facility can be a hard decision to...

Assisted Living and Alzheimer's

Deciding to transition a loved one into an assisted living facility can be a hard decision to...
Fb square
Maximize myALZteam by sharing a little bit about yourself. This article will help you get started...

Getting Started on myALZteam

Maximize myALZteam by sharing a little bit about yourself. This article will help you get started...
Alzteam
On most mobile devices, you can access an internet browser and type in www.myalzteam.com. To save...

myALZteam to go: Get the free upgraded mobile app!

On most mobile devices, you can access an internet browser and type in www.myalzteam.com. To save...
How good boundaries make caregiving easier
There is an old saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” Having healthy boundaries in...

How Good Boundaries Make Caregiving Easier

There is an old saying: “Good fences make good neighbors.” Having healthy boundaries in...
myALZteam My Alzheimer's Team

Two Ways to Get Started with myALZteam

Become a Member

Connect with others who are living with Alzheimer's. Get members only access to emotional support, advice, treatment insights, and more.

sign up

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about Alzheimer's sent to your inbox.

Not now, thanks

Privacy policy
myALZteam My Alzheimer's Team

Thank you for signing up.

close