If last year was really tough, these simple resolutions could help to make both of you happier and less stressed in 2018:

1. Get to grips with the finances

If they haven’t already started organising things such as setting up Lasting Power of Attorney or ensuring they’ve written a Will, the New Year could be a good excuse to make them sit down and get organised. The sooner it’s done, the better, because if it’s left too late, or until your loved starts to lose their mental capacity, the process can be more complicated. If you’re not sure where to start, just go here to get your free eBook.

2. Have fun making a bucket list

bucket list can help your loved one take back control and add some much needed excitement and purpose to life after a dementia diagnosis. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be filled with crazy stunts or luxury holidays. It could be something as simple as visiting a particular city in the UK that they’ve never been to, or trying out a hobby that they’ve never done before. For inspiration and ideas go here.

3. Ask for help

Caring for someone with dementia can be really difficult physically and emotionally. So it’s really important that you make the most of people around you who can help. If family don’t live nearby or are unable (or even unwilling) to support you, perhaps there are neighbours who can help out? You won’t know until you ask…If you’re really struggling to cope, contact your local council and ask for a carer’s assessment. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had one before, dementia is a progressive condition and your needs may be different now. You could be entitled to more support.

4. Check that you’re receiving the right benefits

Both you and the person you care for may be entitled to some benefits to help you along in your dementia journey and the New Year is as good a time as any to reassess the financial situation. For example, the person you care for might be entitled to a Personal Independence Payment, or attendance allowance depending on their age. You could both be entitled to a 25 per cent reduction in your Council Tax bill, and you might also be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance.

5. Look after your health

It’s very easy to become so wrapped up in caring for your loved one that you start to neglect your own health. However noble your intentions, this is a flawed strategy because you need to be strong and well to be an effective carer. If your health deteriorates, you won’t be able to look after the person you love in the way you want, or feel they deserve.  Make 2018 the year that you make your own health a priority. Perhaps you haven’t been eating well, getting enough sleep or have been putting off that doctor’s appointment because you’re too busy. Maybe you’re using food or alcohol as a comfort, or just feel stressed all the time? If so, now’s the time to do something about it.

6. Help them create their life story

Finding ways to connect with a person who has dementia can become increasing tricky as their condition progresses. However, whilst they may find it impossible to recall what happened last week, they’ll probably still have some vivid memories about the past and really enjoy reminiscing about days gone by. That’s why helping them to write their life story can be a great project for you both in the New Year. As well as being a satisfying activity that brings purpose to each day, it’s also a very useful tool for you to reconnect and find topics of conversation that interest you both. You might even learn something you didn’t know!

Tip: Their life story can take the form of a scrapbook or a memory box. If neither of you like writing, it can be entirely told in photos. Just find a way that suits you both and take your time. Enjoy the process! Go here for more information.

7. Make more time for yourself

Booking in regular ‘me time’ is vital for ensuring that you stay happy and healthy and therefore an effective carer for your loved one. Make sure you schedule it in (even if it’s just an evening on your own at the cinema while a neighbour stays with your relative) – try adding it to their care plan. You may also be able to book your loved one in for some respite care. However you choose to get some time for yourself, try not to feel guilty about doing it. You deserve this time to recharge your batteries and, if anything, it will make you an even better carer.

8. Find like-minded friends

Loneliness is one of the most painful emotions dementia carers experience, but sadly it’s very common. Many carers find they see less and less of their old friends, either because they don’t have the time to socialise as much as they used to, or because friends simply don’t understand your new role. However, it is possible to build new friendships with more like-minded people. Start by seeing what dementia befriending schemes or memory cafés there are in your area, and which could provide a source of much-needed support. Online support groups can be very helpful too and there are . Try Dementia Carers Support Group UK and remember, you aren’t alone.

Want to read more on this subject? Here’s another 3 articles you might find useful

Who’s caring for YOU? 5 ways to beat carer loneliness
10 ways to tackle carer depression
You’ve got a friend! Dementia befriending schemes and support groups