Yes, taking care of a loved one with health issues is often done out of a labor of love. However, it can also be an emotional and mental strain on you as the primary caregiver. In your role of caregiver, remember that what you give to yourself is the care you give to your loved one. Especially during cases of long-term care, it can become impossible to give what you don’t have.
Keep these simple steps and strategies in mind to ensure that you, as a caregiver, find time and resources to take care of yourself.
(1) Learn about the disease your loved on has. Find out about what is happening now and what will happen in the future with this disease. The more you know, the more you will be able to plan.
(2) Use community resources. The more you let these services help you, the less you have to do. There are places to get help:
- Your local area agency on aging
- Day care programs
- Support groups
- Healthcare specialists
(3) Take a break from caregiving. Make a date to go to the movies, take a walk, and/or meet a friend for lunch. Everyone needs to get out of the house once in awhile. Do something not related to caregiving.
(4) Get support. Attend a support group and have a buddy you can call just to let off steam and complain. If you are experiencing depression, talk to your doctor about it or seek counseling. Depression is treatable.
(5) Practice communication and behavior management skills if you are caring for someone with dementia. This will make your job easier. Learn how to do this by taking a class or researching online. The best communication strategies are often not intuitive.
(6) Relax. Read a book, meditate, pray, garden, knit, get a massage, take a long bath or just stop to smell the roses.
(7) Take care of your health. Go to the doctor, get routine exams and flu shots, get enough sleep, and eat your fruits and vegetables.
(8) Ask for and accept help when offered. No one can do this alone.
(9) Change “guilt” to “regret.” Guilt is when you did something wrong. Regret is when you are in a difficult situation and sometimes you have to make difficult decisions – not wrong ones.
(10) Forgive yourself—often. You cannot be a perfect caregiver, all day, every day.
(11) Laugh. Find ways to keep your sense of humor on a daily basis. Watch comedies, practice laughter yoga, share jokes with friends and smile (a lot);
Source: Family Caregiver Alliance (National Center on Caregiving)
Resources for Family Caregivers
*Family Caregiver Navigator Program: CLICK HERE
*LEARN Idaho: CLICK HERE.
*Smart Strategies for Successful Living: CLICK HERE.