Taking Care of The Caretaker
Being a caregiver is a very challenging responsibility. It is the nature of our business that we are contacted by loving and loyal family members who have the responsibility of caring for a family elder. We hear their stories, challenges, concerns and we are inspired by their passion and commitment to being the primary caregiver of their in-home senior.
This article is for them.
We’ve found that family caregivers can easily get under supported and over worked. The responsibility can take a toll on the caregiver, but with proper help and guidance, they can get the help they need to keep their family member independent and happy for extended periods of time.
We spoke with an expert on the topic and here is their feedback for caregivers:
Caregivers, sometimes you get so angry that you want to lash out, but you don’t. Sometimes you just want to crawl into a corner and cry your eyes out, but you don’t. You might even feel guilty for the anger and sorrow and for being healthy when your loved one isn’t. You are a caregiver. And you have given up a portion of your life to watch over someone you love.
Keep in mind, that if you’re not taking care of yourself first, you cannot do your best for your loved one. That means taking time off – to rest, to have fun, to exercise, to keep up to date on your appointments, to see your doctor and your dentist, to do some cleaning, to be with your family.
You say you don’t have time? You have to make the time. Get help. You won’t be taking care of anyone if you’re burned out!
Take stock of your situation:
- Sleeping – Do you rarely get a good night’s sleep?
- Exercising? – Are you too short on time to exercise?
- Diet – Do you simply grab what you can, often fast food and snacks?
- Weight Gain – Are you at a healthy weight?
- Taking of Medications – Have you run out of a prescription because you haven’t seen your doctor in ages?
- Recreation – When was the last time you went to a party or had lunch with friends?
How do you feel? Tired? Crabby? Depressed? Maybe all of those?
How to reduce stress and be a better caregiver
- Get family help – Make a list of things that your family can do to help and delegate those tasks. Mowing and weeding the yard, preparing meals, shopping, cleaning, driving. You don’t have to do it all.
- Get outside help – Consider bringing in an in home caregiver for a few hours every week, just to let you keep your doctor’s appointment or have lunch with friends or go to a movie with your family.
- Exercise – Walking, jogging, riding a bike, any regular exercise helps to reduce stress.
- Downtime – Even thirty minutes in the middle of your day to nap, read, work on a hobby or just meditate will help you handle everything better.
- Diet – Plan your meals and take a little time to eat. If you eat with your loved one, make sure both meals are healthy.
- Sleep – Get to bed at a reasonable hour and practice good sleep hygiene. https://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/sleep-hygiene
- Well visits – See your own doctor for regular checkups and advice. Don’t let your health suffer. Keep your immunizations up to date. A yearly flu shot not only protects you, but your family and your loved one as well.
Maintaining Personal Relationships
You have many relationships: your spouse, your children, your siblings, your parents, your friends and the person you take care of. If, or when, your interactions with your loved one deteriorate, the other parts of your life tend to do so as well.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to join a support group. Talking to people who understand your situation, who’ve been there and done that, can be enormously helpful. They may have answers to some of the problems you’ve been having.
Remember if you don’t take care of yourself first, you cannot take care of someone else, at least not well. Get help and talk to people who understand. Contact us to discuss keeping your loved one independent and your family caregiver supported.