10 Tips for Caregivers
In honor of National Caregivers month, The Elder Law Center of Kirson & Fuller would like to encourage and educate the community of families, friends and professional Caregivers.
As a caregiver, you are responsible for bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, administering medication, household duties and many other tasks, all while offering emotional support and compassion to your loved one. Often, it becomes difficult to carve out time for oneself. The accountability of caring for a loved one can not only be physically challenging, but mentally and emotionally depleting as well. It is imperative caregivers establish time to look after themselves. Here are 10 tips from the American Heart Association that may help maintain the health and well-being of caregivers nationwide.
- Get regular physical activity. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — even in small increments — can boost your energy level. Exercise reduces stress, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and can help you keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels. Walking is a great way to get started, even if you only walk around the yard.
- Maintain a heart-healthy diet. A healthy diet will give you more energy. Eating well can help prevent other health problems, too. If you have to “eat on the run,” try to choose nutritious snacks.
- Make time for yourself. Take time every day for an activity you enjoy, such as reading, walking, crafts, cooking or listening to music. Whatever makes you happy and relaxes you can be therapeutic.
- Keep humor in your life. It’s true — laughter is good medicine. Try to find humor in your life every day. Watch a silly TV program or go to a movie that tickles your funny bone. Find things to laugh about with the loved one in your care — that person needs joy, too.
- Get out and about. At least once a week, break out of your routine and go somewhere enjoyable. Visit the local coffee shop, attend religious events, take a class, visit a friend or just wander around the mall. If your loved one needs constant attention, ask for help. It’s likely that someone will be happy to give up an hour or two a week so that you can get out for a breath of fresh air.
- Watch out for depression. The demands placed on you as a caregiver can be difficult and stressful. If you are experiencing signs of signs of depression, talk to your health care professional. Often, depression can be managed with talk therapy or medication.
- Take care of business. Keep your finances in check, work when you need to and don’t stop planning for the future. If you allow yourself to be totally immersed in your caregiver responsibilities, it can be harder to re-integrate into life later on. Keep living.
- Keep medical and dental appointments. Do all you can to maintain your health. If you’re sick, you won’t be able to care for your loved one. Ask for help when you need it so you can get away for your own medical appointments and take care of your health and well-being.
- Think positive. Take time every day to refresh your mind. Recognize your limitations and make peace with them. Let go of guilt. Pat yourself on the back for the job you’re doing. If you’re feeling guilty or angry, take a break.
- Stay connected with the outside world. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated. Stay connected with family and friends, even if it’s just by phone or online. Talk to friends about something other than your role as a caregiver.
If you are a caregiver or know a caregiver that is feeling overwhelmed, we suggest going for a walk, watching a comedy sketch or taking a break to grab a bite to eat. Try not to neglect your personal needs. Remember, the better you feel as a caregiver, the better care you can provide to your loved ones.
Sources: The American Heart Association