Care for the Caregiver

With so many responsibilities, it can be challenging for caregivers to balance their caregiving role with work and other family obligations. According to AARP, most family caregivers say the most difficult part of taking care of their loved one is the demand on their time.
Stress can take a toll on your health. Caring for yourself is the most important thing you can do for your loved one. The healthier you are, the more effective you can be in your role as a caregiver.”

AARP has the following advice for caregivers:
• Check your feelings: The way you came into your role as a caregiver can affect your feelings about the experience.

• Maybe you have always felt close to your loved one, and you see your role as your opportunity to give back to your friend or relative. Or maybe the role of caregiver fell into your lap, and you feel resentment. It’s important to be in touch with your emotions.”

• Take a break: It’s important to attend to your own needs for exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. Taking this time will help you return to your caregiver role feeling revitalized. AARP suggests connecting with the Caring Bridge network or their own online caregiving community.

• Find support: Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. There are many people out there experiencing the same ups and downs as you. You can find services and support groups available in your community through Eldercare Locator.

• Look into respite care: Respite care options are available to support you in taking a needed break. Through in-home respite, healthcare aides provide companionship and nursing services in your home. Adult care centers and programs provide care for both adults and young children. Short-term nursing homes can accept patients in need of care for short stays while caregivers are away.

Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service that connects seniors and their caregivers with local support resources.
When the going gets especially tough, it may be time to accept help from others. The Mayo Clinic recommends being prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, letting the individual choose what they would like to do.

Having social support and surrounding yourself with other caregivers who understand what you’re going through can provide validation, encouragement, and help you problem solve in difficult situations. You can also develop meaningful friendships through your shared experiences.

Finally, caregivers also need to keep up a regimen of regularly seeing their doctors. Make sure to mention any symptoms or concerns.

Sources:

AARP: “Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families”

Eldercare: “Eldercare Locator”

The Mayo Clinic: “Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself”