Five Tips for Caring for You, the Caregiver
To prevent these problems and avoid caregiver stress and burnout, it’s so important to care for yourself. To help, we’ve provided five tips for caring for the caregiver.
Caregivers often report that they don’t sleep well, eat well, or get much physical activity. Studies have even linked caregiving to increased health risks and higher chances of having depression or anxiety.
You’re providing constant compassion and care for your senior loved one, but how often do you care for yourself?
1. Come from a Place of Strength
When you provide so much care to a loved one, it can feel like you don’t have an ounce of care left to give yourself. Although it might be difficult to start, it’s important to take care of yourself first. This helps you come from a place of strength, making it easier to provide care and avoid feelings of burnout.
Start with your basic physical needs. If you’re lacking in these areas, make changes to do the following:
- Get enough sleep at night. Set up a routine where you can wind down before going to bed. Take a shower or bath, avoid looking at screens, and allow yourself to relax, even if only for a few moments before sleeping.
- Eat foods that fuel your body and give you energy. This can prevent brain fog and help to regulate your blood sugar so that you don’t have drastic dips in energy levels throughout the day.
- Stay physically active so that your body can stay strong. This can be as simple as taking walks, stretching, or staying mobile and active with various tasks throughout the day.
If you start to feel run down or ill, pause and notice what your body is trying to tell you. See a doctor for support and get the medical attention or rest you need. You can’t care for others if you’re run down.
2. Build up Your Support System
You may feel like you have to take full responsibility for your loved one, but recognize the resources that are available. Don’t hesitate to lean on both professional and personal resources for support.
Within the healthcare system, rely on doctors for their advice. Ask questions as they arise, for your own peace of mind, and to provide the best care possible. Rely on services to take breaks and provide specific care that you can’t do on your own.
Support from a therapist can provide you with healthy guidance so that you can process what you’re experiencing. Group therapy might be a great way to remind yourself you’re not alone. These can be accessed online, from anywhere.
Rely on information and experts, such as Teepa Snow, who can help you understand caregiving. This video on care tips provides helpful perspective on what it means to be a caregiver.
Kensington Konnect also serves as a hub of informative and entertaining resources for caregivers, including how-to videos, articles, online classes, virtual tours, and concerts.
Confide in someone close to you, whom you trust, to share your feelings and experience with. Take time to visit friends and family. Take your mind off of your work as a caregiver and gain perspective for why being a caregiver is important to you.
3. Create Healthy Boundaries
Take moments each day for yourself. A comforting beverage in the morning and a few minutes of reading a good book before bed can make a positive difference. If you can carve out more time, consider taking a day trip, or making time for enriching experiences, such as taking online classes.
If you find yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed, find coping mechanisms that work for you. This could be as simple as taking a few deep breaths or taking a moment to yourself to check in with what you’re feeling.
Taking time like this can remind you that your feelings are just as important as those of your loved one. This can help you avoid an unfortunate buildup of resentment and stress by giving yourself outlets to acknowledge and release those feelings.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
The responsibilities of caregiving can make you feel like you have to control what happens to the person you care for. As things change, you might feel responsible for health issues that arise or accidents that occur.
Avoid expectations around their level of improvement. Take each day, each step, each doctor’s visit as it comes. Having high expectations often leads to more worries and increased anxiety.
This includes letting go of the high expectations you have for your performance as a caregiver. Instead, trust that you are doing the best you can. If you make mistakes, you can also forgive yourself and learn from them.
5. Make Time to Express Yourself
Try not to lose yourself in the person you care for. Take moments of the day to do something you love. Taking breaks to express yourself in ways that you find pleasurable can help you clear your mind and release emotions and stress.
For example, you could journal, color, paint, do a puzzle, cook, bake, sit in nature, or do any other hobby you enjoy.
You Deserve Care Too
Remember the positive impact you provide as a caregiver. You know how to care for your loved one. Apply that same level of compassion toward yourself, using these tips to check in on the care you need.
If you see a possible future need to transition care to a senior living community, call us today to see how The Kensington Redondo Beach promises to love and care for your loved ones as we do our very own. Our assisted living and memory care neighborhoods are in place to welcome seniors from all levels of physical and cognitive abilities.