8 Ways for Caregivers to Care for Themselves
It’s a fact that family caregivers are more prone to illness than most people. The problem is that they tend to focus on the health of the older adult for whom they are caring and neglect themselves. Often, caregivers do not eat a healthy diet, fail to get enough sleep, and don’t find time to exercise. They also may not go to their regular doctor appointments.
And, on top of all that, they have higher levels of stress than most people. Getting ill makes it even more difficult to manage the needs of an older adult, so it is in their best interest to look after their own health as well.
Below are 8 ways for caregivers to take care of themselves.
#1 Let Go of Guilt
If you feel guilty because you sometimes have negative thoughts about being a caregiver, don’t. Or, if your guilt lies in not being able to do certain things for your parent or worrying about not doing something quite right, let that go, too. It’s not unusual for caregivers to have mixed emotions. It does not make you a bad person. It makes you normal. Also, no one should expect you to be perfect, especially not you. These guilty feelings only increase your stress and make you miserable.
#2 Eat Healthy Meals
Caregivers are often short on time, which can lead to grabbing quick meals, like fast food. But, a healthy diet that consists mostly of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean proteins can help you to stay healthier. One way you eat better is to combine your own mealtimes with those of your aging parent whenever possible. When you have to cook for them, cook for yourself, too. Not only will you be eating healthier, your older family member will benefit from having company while they eat.
#3 Make Time to Exercise
Everyone needs exercise to be healthy. Not only does it improve your physical health, it can also reduce your stress and put you in a better mood.
#4 Spend Time with Friends
Maintaining social connections while being a caregiver isn’t easy, but it is essential. Your friends can be an excellent source of comfort and support through this difficult time. Make time each week to catch up over a cup of coffee, go see a movie together, or even just talk on the phone.
#5 Attend Regular Medical Appointments
Don’t skip your annual physicals or checkups, especially if you have an existing condition. Make appointments and keep them. That includes dental and vision appointments.
#6 Get Enough Sleep
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, being a caregiver can affect sleep because you’re short on time or because you spend the nights worrying about your loved one. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these tips:
- Stick to a regular schedule, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar close to bedtime.
- Make changes to your bedroom to create a sanctuary. Adjust the temperature for comfortable sleeping and remove distractions.
- Do something to relax before bedtime, such as reading or listening to music.
#7 Join a Support Group
Having a place to safely vent your feelings about being a caregiver can make a big difference in your stress levels. Consider joining an online or in-person caregiver support group. You’ll meet other people in situations similar to your own who will understand what you are going through and how you are feeling. You may even learn some tips from more experienced caregivers or make new friends that you spend time with outside of group meetings.
#8 Get Help
Many caregivers try to take on the entire load themselves. Instead of doing that, accept help when it is offered. Or, better yet, actively seek out people who can help you. It can help to create a list of tasks that people can help you with, such as running errands or spending a few hours with the older adult while you take time for yourself. Talk to family members and friends about how you are feeling and ask if they might be able to take care of some of the responsibilities.
Another option is to hire home care through an agency. A home care agency can help match your parent with an experienced professional caregiver who can come to the older adult’s home and assist them when you are not there. Professional caregivers can be hired to come out for just a couple of hours per week, for entire days, and can even stay overnight with the older adult if they cannot be home alone.
Caregivers hired through home care agency can assist with almost any task that family members can. They can perform both household tasks, like cooking and cleaning, as well as personal care tasks, like helping with dressing and bathing.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Caregiver Services in Sun City AZ, please contact the caring staff at Devoted Guardians today.
Affordable In-Home Care in the Phoenix Metro Area. Call Today: (480) 999-3012.