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You can’t give what you don’t have. Every caregiver of an older loved one needs to accept this essential truth. If you're burned out, you won't be able to give your aging family member the quality of care they need.
That’s why it’s crucial for caregivers to learn how to practice healthy self-care. From stress management to taking advantage of respite care, here are some suggestions to get started.
Caring for the Caregiver
1. Care for your physical needs.
Proper sleep, healthy nutrition, and regular exercise are basic needs that you must meet to protect your physical well-being. If you feel guilty for making time for these, remind yourself they are necessities, not indulgences. If your health declines to the point where you experience a health crisis, there might not be anyone who can care for your family member.
2. Stay connected to social activities.
While your social life might not be as active as it was before you were a caregiver, it’s important to stay connected to friends and loved ones. If you withdraw from everyone, your risk for depression rises. So do the odds of developing unhealthy coping habits, such as overeating or consuming too much alcohol.
3. Manage stress in productive ways.
Family caregivers often deal with a lot of stress. Juggling a senior loved one’s needs with those of your own family and career can be challenging. Finding ways to manage stress is necessary. Research shows chronic stress negatively impacts the body and mind. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, obesity, heart disease, and even memory loss.
A few healthy stressbusters include daily journaling, walking, meditation, listening to music, or playing with a pet. Activities that encourage better breathing may also help you cope with caregiving stress. Yoga and Pilates are two that can be practiced anywhere.
4. Connect with fellow caregivers.
Talking with people who can understand and relate to the unique struggles faced by caregivers is another way to care for yourself. Not only can they offer advice for handling specific challenges (e.g., batch-cooking meals or finding affordable transportation), but peers can also help you manage emotional issues.
Your local agency on aging can help you explore support groups near you. If you prefer to connect with an online caregiver support group, the Family Caregiver Alliance is a good resource.
5. Take advantage of respite care.
Asking for help is one of the most important steps for protecting your own well-being. When a friend or neighbor offers to help with small tasks, accept their offer. Many caregivers shrug assistance off believing they should do it all on their own.
When you don’t have back-up support that allows you to take regular breaks from caregiving, respite care services can be an ideal solution. Home care agencies and assisted living communities, like Sunrise Senior Living, offer these short-term care programs. If money is tight, your local agency on aging might know of funding to help pay for respite.
Respite Care at Sunrise
If you are a family caregiver looking for a few days or weeks of respite for a loved one, we invite you to consider Sunrise. Call us today at 888-434-4648 to learn more or to schedule a private visit at the community nearest you.