“Take Care to Give Care” is the theme for this year’s National Family Caregiver Month. It is also an excellent reminder of the importance of self-care for caregivers. Nationally, approximately 90 million caregivers provide care for a family member.
While taking care of a loved one is deeply rewarding, it can be taxing on caregivers’ own physical and mental health. In the day-to-day care of their loved ones caregivers often fail to pay attention to and tend to their own wellness. We are going to look at some areas that caregivers may be overlooking in their own lives and provide some tips to help ensure your own optimal physical and mental health.
The many responsibilities and duties related to caregiving: medication management, assisting with activities of daily living, scheduling doctor appointments, meal planning, etc., can be stressful. This is especially true for caregivers who work full time jobs and/or have other family members who they are responsible for as well. If you are a caregiver, keeping your stress level minimized is essential for you to provide good care and maintain your own wellbeing. Some ways that you can help eliminate or reduce stress in your life include:
- Getting a routine massage to help relax your tense muscles as well as your mind. If money or time is an issue, a hand held back massager or foot massager can help produce similar results
- Exercising regularly. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, and it can be done before your family member awakes or after they are in bed for the night
- Talking to other caregivers who can relate to your situation. This can be done in person, over the phone, or via the Internet.
- Taking time for yourself. Get someone to provide respite care and take a day or weekend trip to regroup.
Part of a caregiver’s role is to ensure your loved one gets proper nutrition and rest, but this is oftentimes overlooked for oneself. Planning your meals in advance weekly or monthly can help ensure that you are eating properly. If you are not sleeping well, a sleep aid such as a body pillow or wedge cushion may assist you in getting the rest that you need.
Taking care of a family member with limited mobility can result in injury to your back and/or knees if you are not careful. If you must transfer your loved one from the bed or wheelchair, use transfer aids to help protect yourself from injury.
Remember, “Take Care to Give Care!” Utilize our self-care tips and look for other ways to take care of yourself so that you can continue to take good care of your loved ones.
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