Care for yourself when caring for loved ones
Across the U.S., over 54 million people, primarily women, are faced with the challenge of providing care to their older family members. These are the unsung heroes of today, supporting the elders we love.
While caregiving can be rewarding, research suggests that a caregiver’s health and overall well-being can be affected by the physical and emotional strain. As a caregiver, it’s important to find ways to make it less stressful.
Don’t do it alone
- Ask family and friends for help. Set up family conferences, seek suggestions from each other and talk through disagreements.
- Seek wisdom from other caregivers.
- Involve (to the best of their ability) the person you’re caring for.
- Learn about your loved one’s illness and be informed. Find specialists for information and guidance.
- Tap into local resources and support groups.
Take time out
- Take time away from caregiving, and don’t neglect your personal and professional needs.
- Get lots of rest and exercise.
- Enjoy relaxing music.
- Eat nutritious meals. Accept offers from friends to provide lunch or dinner.
- Visit with friends, and plan leisure activities.
Think carefully about how much care you can realistically provide without harming your health. Keep in mind that if you take on too much, you will eventually burn out or develop a serious health condition leaving you unable to care for anyone. Beware of the following signs and seek help if any of these persist.
- Anger or fear
- Tendency to overreact
- Feeling depressed, isolated or overburdened
- Thoughts of guilt, shame or inadequacy
- Digestive issues, weight loss or gain
- Trouble sleeping or fatigue
Remember that while caregiving is tough, it can be a time to heal old wounds, end conflicts, improve relationships and serve a loved one. And with a little time, experience and help from others, you’ll get the hang of it.
For more tips on caregiving, contact us. We are here to help.