At some point in your life, you will likely be tasked to care for a loved one either due to illness, injury, or age-related complications. One of the most common and long-term types of caregiving is related to caring for an elderly loved one, be it a family member, spouse, or friend. As people age, they face an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or a decline in general health. Most of the time, depending on the family’s situation, the responsibility of caring for a loved one falls on a spouse, or close relative such as an adult child or sibling.
When taking over the care, health and safety of another, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, anxious, or even resentful, especially in cases where you may have not had a choice in the matter. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is an estimated 1 in 3 adults in the United States who are informal caregivers. Even still, many are reluctant to give themselves that title and credit to themselves that they are caregivers.
As a caregiver of anyone, it’s vital that you care for yourself as well. As the old phrase goes, “if a plane is crashing, you need to use your mask for a breath first before you can help anyone else,” and the saying is true also in terms of caring for a loved one. Many caregivers are uncomfortable asking for help for themselves, generally because they feel as though they are being selfish for asking or they may feel as though they simply don’t have time to pay any attention to their needs while caring for their loved one. Both these situations are a leading cause of caregiver burnout, and when that happens, no one benefits.
Although it can be a challenge balancing both your needs and your loved one’s needs, it’s not impossible to care for yourself, but it may take more planning or forethought as to how you can begin. Here are some tips of how to accomplish self-care whilst being a caregiver.
1. Get time for yourself when you can. This could be as simple as taking 5 minutes to step out of the room or house and taking a few deep breaths to help center yourself, or it could mean taking a short walk outside in the yard or around the block.
2. Sleep while they sleep, or take some time after they go to bed to read or journal and reflect on your day so you can clear your head as stress comes up rather than all at once at “random” after months of stress.
3. Drink enough water. This one may seem a bit cliché or redundant, but staying hydrated can have an enormous impact on your health, helping to prevent headaches, drowsiness and other common ailments.
4. Consider hiring an in-home care aid or respite worker that can help your loved one when you’re away or just need some time for yourself to go shopping, going to the gym or even sleeping. Most if not all professional caregivers are vetted, drug-tested, and given a background check to verify their qualifications, which may help ease your mind of concerns when thinking about hiring someone else to help. You can take a look at the services we offer here to find one that best fits your needs.
5. Find a support group or a friend that can support you as you’re going through this challenging time. There are many resources for finding organizations or groups that focus on caregiver support and can offer more tips or resources to help you navigate this challenging time. The AARP website is a reputable place to find these groups and organizations.
6. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE! As humans, when we get stressed out or have a lot on our plates, it’s easier than not to withdraw from others and possibly feel like a victim of circumstance and that we’re totally alone in dealing with our problems. This simply isn’t true! Chances are that you are not the only one who is going through or has gone through such a challenging situation even though at the time it may feel like that. This is where trying to reach out to friends, other family members or talking to your doctor or therapist and listening to their recommendations can really help you in the long run.
These are a few of many tips that you can use to help you care for yourself. For more information click here We offer many in-home care services including but not limited to respite, companionship, light housekeeping, meal prep, and medication administration to prioritize your senior and their care so that you can have a break and feel good knowing they’re being well taken care of so you can get some “me” time and come back refreshed to face another day.