Self Care Tips For The Caregiver
Caring for an aging loved one can be one of the most rewarding things we can do in our lifetime.
As our population ages, more of us are being introduced to this role with as our parents need care. According to Womens Health ”A caregiver is anyone who provides help to another person in need, such as an ill spouse or partner, disabled child, or an aging relative”. The challenges of being a caregiver are common and can include physical and emotional effects. As a caregiver, the focus tends to be primarily on your loved one and you don’t always realize that your own health may be failing.
Rewarding, But Stressful:
If you are like many caregivers, you have trouble asking for help. This attitude can leave us feeling isolated. The emotional and physical demands of caregiving can be a strain for even the most resilient person. Taking advantage of available resources will help you provide better care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
What are common signs of caregiver stress?
- A constant feeling of worry
- Persistent exhaustion
- Not getting enough sleep (or getting too much sleep)
- Losing weight (or gaining)
- Persistent sad feeling
- Frequent headaches/body pain
- Alcohol/drug abuse – including prescription medication
Top Tips To Manage Caregiver Stress
Make a list of ways that you could use help. The next opportunity that arises where help is offered, you won’t feel put on the spot for an idea. You will have some easy suggestions to offer the helper.
Learn Ways to better help:
Address any necessary issues that might be preventing mobility, stability and mental acuity. If you find you are avoiding leaving the home for long stretches of time because of the risk of falls or injury, it is time to perform a safety inspection of the home. Being pro-active is the best way you can take care of yourself and your loved one and make sure your lives are as stress-free as possible.
Establish a routine:
Having structure in the day will help you to be organized and stay on task. Prioritize. Learn to say no to things that take too much energy, remember you can’t do it all.
Seek Out Support
Research caregiving resources in your community. The resource finder at caregiver.org is especially helpful in suggesting multiple avenues for caregiver resources. CaAlso research support groups specific to the illness related to your family member. People in these groups can provide encouragement and a be sounding board for difficult situations. If leaving the home is an issue look online for these groups on social media.
Maintain personal health goals
Strive to set and maintain personal health goals. For example, get 8 hours of sleep per night, drink enough water, and see your doctor regularly. Just the basics can go a long way. Self care is the cornerstone of good caregiving. Have a hard time in this area? Reach out to a friend and ask them to help you with accountability. Make it fun and set a challenge!
A note about working outside the home
Many caregivers are employed outside the dome. What does that mean for the family member at home? Having a fall detection system in place in the home for these is surely a benefit that will ensure peace of mind for everyone involved. The Walabot HOME and the Numera Libris 2 are two Emergency Alert Units with fall detection that are excellent for this purpose.
If you do think about leaving your job for a period of time, employees covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act may be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year to care for relatives. For options about unpaid leave at your company, talk to your human resources office.