National Caregivers Month: Tips for Taking Caring of Yourself
If you are a caregiver to an ill or older loved one, it’s crucial to remember to take the time to maintain your own health and well-being. November is National Caregivers Month, a time to spread awareness of the important role caregivers play in selflessly and tirelessly caring for a loved one – a role that can’t be fulfilled if you don’t take care of yourself, too!
While caregiving can be rewarding, it is normal to experience caregiver burnout and stress. It is also perfectly natural to experience a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, or exhaustion. Many caregivers also work outside of the home in addition to providing caregiving duties, and the physically demanding schedules, multiple responsibilities, and emotionally taxing experience of watching a loved one age is enough to overwhelm anyone from time to time.
This National Caregivers Month, make sure to take some time for self-care so that you can continue to perform the essential duty of caring for your loved one.
Get out of the house
It’s easier said than done – but make a point at least once a week to break out of your routine and go to a local coffee shop, take a class, go shopping, dine out, visit a friend, or just take a walk around your neighborhood. If your loved one can’t be left alone, ask a friend or relative if they can stay with them for a bit while you get some fresh air.
Stay up-to-date with medical appointments
Constantly prioritizing your loved one’s health can make it easy to forget to take care of your own. Even if you don’t feel sick, keeping up with regular checkups, vaccinations, and preventative health screenings is important. Remember that you need your health to be an effective caregiver to your loved one.
Make time for relaxing
Much of self-care is simply carving out some alone time to relax and unwind. Take a bath, read, do yoga, listen to music, or indulge in a creative hobby, such as writing or painting. Find something that brings you joy and makes you feel at ease and be sure to schedule some time regularly to do it.
Taking a break can be one of the best things you can do for yourself as a caregiver. If you have relatives or friends nearby you can trust and count on, don’t be afraid to ask them for help. The task can be as simple as running an errand or picking up groceries for you. Your helper may also be willing to assist you with cooking, cleaning, or staying with your loved one while you run an errand or just enjoy some time for yourself out of the house. Your community may also have respite services available, such as in-home respite care, where health care aides come to your home to provide care services, or adult day care services.
If you are feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, there are plenty of organizations devoted to helping caregivers. The National Alliance for Caregivers offers an extensive list of resources and guides to aid caregivers in learning more about caregiving, locating financial assistance and programs in their area, and finding support through online communities and advocacy groups.
Join a support group
A support group can help you feel less alone by sharing your experience with others going through the same thing. Support group members can offer words of encouragement when you are feeling hopeless, as well as share problem-solving strategies or advice for dealing with the stress of caregiving. A support group is a great way to form friendships as well.
Check yourself for depression
Watching a parent or relative age or live with an illness can be difficult and upsetting. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, such as not sleeping well, avoiding things you once enjoyed, feeling hopeless, or becoming reclusive, make an appointment to speak to a professional about depression. Mental health is as important as physical health, and it will be difficult to function as a caregiver if you don’t prioritize your well-being.
Consider skilled-nursing care
There may come a time when you feel you are unable to continue being a caregiver for your loved one. It might be difficult to imagine moving your loved one into a skilled-nursing care community, but sometimes it may be the best option – for both you and your loved one. At Christian Health, our residents and patients receive compassionate care from a highly trained team committed to each individual’s specific health needs and emotional well-being. We offer a variety of social and recreational therapeutic programs, including pet therapy, religious activities, birthday parties, and themed dinners and events, to ensure your loved one is content and enjoys companionship.
If you are considering a skilled-nursing center for your loved one, we are here to help.
Located on our main campus in Wyckoff, New Jersey, Heritage Manor provides skilled-nursing care, dementia care, rehab services, and inpatient hospice services. For more information or to schedule a tour of Heritage Manor, please call (201) 848-5855 or visit our Heritage Manor webpage.