As a caregiver, your role is both challenging and rewarding; providing support to those in memory care or senior communities is an opportunity to help others live their life in a meaningful, fulfilling way. However, it’s important to balance both the requirements of your role with personal aspirations. With the new year approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how to improve your craft as a caregiver, achieve personal aspirations and build on your current knowledge. To help you start thinking ahead, we’ve compiled five important goals for you to consider in 2021:
1. Expand Your Care Skill Set
In every role or occupation, there is an opportunity for growth and reeducation. Think about your own personal knowledge base and identify areas where you’d like to learn additional skills or improve your existing methods. If finding in-person training is difficult, there are a variety of accessible online courses worth considering.
As you pick the program that’s right for you, make sure to consider the following questions:
Does the course contain the educational material I need?
- Does the course offer blended or strictly online learning, and which do I prefer?
- Are the topics based on clinical research and proven practice methods?
- Does the coursework qualify for certification or meet federal and state standards?
- Are there specialty areas I can pursue, or add-on courses worth exploring?
- Are both the Alzheimer’s and dementia courses recognized by the relevant professional associations?
Depending on your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to identify which coursework will meet your expectations and help you take your career to the next level.
2. Build Your Support Network
Caregiving is not an easy occupation, and some days, you may need to rely on the support of others to provide the best care. Whether you’re not sure how to handle a specific scenario, want a second opinion or need to express frustrations, it’s important to have other professionals, friends or family you can call.
In general, it’s easy to feel isolated from others in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many are feeling like they are on their own. Rely on digital communication to maintain a regular connection to others, and use social media as a tool to connect–no matter the distance.
3. Refocus on Mental Health
Mental health should take priority this year, whether for you or the person for whom you provide care. As we maintain a clear mindset and leverage clinically-proven coping skills to overcome anxiety or stress, we’re able to move throughout our day with confidence and peace of mind.
Everyone’s individual experience is different, but there are general ways to begin improving your mental health. This can include, but is not limited to, reintroducing passion projects into your routine, scheduling regular breaks, joining a support group, seeing a therapist or setting goals for healthy eating and diet habits. Each of these same practices can be applied in your approach to caregiving, and help you mitigate the effects of dementia or Alzheimers.
4. Find a Caregiver Mentor
If you’re serious about your pursuit of caregiving, don’t be afraid to reach out to seasoned professionals for guidance and support. Career mentors are valuable not only for their connections, but for their previous experience and knowledge. If you don’t currently have a person in mind, consider using social networking platforms to connect with individuals who can help.
A s a rule of thumb, make sure you’re the right fit for a professional mentor before making the ask and remember to always be respectful of their answer and time. Come prepared to the table with goals you want to achieve, questions you have and identify opportunities for feedback. Whether you pursue caregiving long-term or not, the extra opinion and support will make all the difference.
5. Balance Personal with Provider Time
As a caregiver, it can be hard to navigate separating your responsibilities from your personal life. Often, these two things blend together, leaving little-to-no time for “you time.” The care you can provide is dependent first on how you take care of yourself. Leave time for your development or personal relaxation in order to continually become the best caregiver you can be.