During the course of the day, a caregiver has many important responsibilities. Among the physical tasks, patient advocacy, and the stress of the job, this role can be overwhelming. However, you could argue that the most important overall responsibility is to take care of yourself. Keeping in tip-top shape is important for a caregiver to be able to accomplish all the tasks in a day, a week, or a lifetime. Due to these reasons, it is never a good idea to ignore your own mental and physical needs, as you are then unable to provide the best care for your loved one.
Embrace Your Needs
Being a caregiver comes with a powerful sense of responsibility and one which you may find hard to step away from for even a moment. Try to not feel guilty about taking care of yourself under these circumstances because in order to be able to care for an aging loved one, you need to maintain your own health. Failure to take action may result in significant mental health issues such as anxiety or depression which will affect not only you as the caregiver, but also the person receiving care.
It’s Okay to Ask For Help
You should not be afraid to ask for help from family members who are also invested in the care and well-being of your loved one. It is important for them to be educated on the importance of the caregiver fulfilling their personal needs instead of simply providing care for another all the time. Even regular, everyday activities like keeping scheduled appointments, going grocery shopping, and getting more sleep can allow you to live your life to the fullest extent possible. You are your best advocate so do not be afraid to stand up for your needs and be clear and direct if you have to step away from your duties for a short time. Understand that you are human like everyone else and deserve help so that you can have some time alone as well.
Self-Maintenance is Important
Taking care of a loved one all the time can be physically draining. Without enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, and fresh air, it is a demanding job that wears you out. These are bare necessities that no one can function without, and ones that your family should encourage you to be mindful of. Take time to get 7 hours of sleep every night, eat a balanced diet by minimizing processed and fast foods, and exercise every day. Even walking around the neighborhood or working in the garden can be beneficial. Regardless of what “alone-time” means to you, it is important to take that opportunity to do what makes you happy and your role of caregiver should not be an exception to this.
Occasionally, you may become overwhelmed by your responsibilities and let other things fall by the wayside. After spending 8 to 10 hours or more caring for a loved one, cleaning your house may be the last thing on your mind for example, yet it needs to be done eventually. For tasks such as these, consider outsourcing this work to a housekeeping service so that you can have one less item on your to-do list. Remember, decluttering and keeping your home clean are also important self-care activities.
When You Just Can’t Do It Anymore
Lots of people suffer burnout, depression, and anxiety due to their caregiving responsibilities. It is very important that you do not fall into the trap of believing you are the only one who can provide care for your loved one. If you are struggling and need help but feel like your family is not receptive to providing assistance, it can help to bring in a neutral third party to facilitate a family meeting. It’s beneficial for all involved to discuss the “what ifs” of aging such as “What’s our plan when Mom’s dementia progresses?” or “Is it financially feasible to hire home health to come in several days a week to help out?” Although providing care to your loved ones can be an exhausting and stressful endeavor, caregiving CAN be a positive experience IF an Aging Plan is in place. Care Right offers caregiver support and many specialty services for those who are facing the challenges of caring for an aging loved one and strives to support all family members involved. If you’d like to learn more, contact us at (800) 741-0302 or visit our website at carerightinc.com.