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9 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
1. Put your own self-care at the top of your priority list. Stick to your exercise routine, don't skip meals, fuel yourself with healthy foods and get the sleep you need. kept me feeling in control and energized. do not let yourself feel guilty for taking time for yourself.
2. Ask for and accept the help you need. There is no shame in asking others to help out wherever needed. Most people not only want to help, but feel really good about doing so. Whenever I needed help getting a lift to or from the airport, picking up things from the market, or cooking dinner, the assistance of my husband, children and friends was invaluable and very much appreciated.
3. Research and apply for assistance from available services. Most communities have loads of services for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels, Senior Care Shuttle Vans, Jewish Family Services or Christian Senior Services. The more services you have in place, the more at ease you will feel when you can't be there. The FCA lists many on its website. Look into support groups not only for your loved one but for yourself as well. Sometimes, no one can truly understand what you're dealing with unless they've been there, too.
4. Keep up with your own work and responsibilities. Worrying about falling behind in your work and responsibilities will cause extra stress. Try to stay organized and on top of what you must accomplish on a daily basis, so that you can focus on your loved one's needs and be totally engaged when you're with them. Table anything that isn’t high priority to a calmer time.
5. As much as possible, involve your loved one in the decision making process. Unless you are dealing with the loss of mental faculties, your loved one deserves to have a say in his/her care and life. Just because someone is elderly or ill does not mean they can no longer make knowledgeable decisions about what is right for them. Ask what it is they need and want from you; it may be less than you think.
6. Do not feel guilty when away or attending to your own life. You can only do the best you can. Remind yourself that you are being a loving and caring individual, but you must also love and care for yourself, too.
7. Do something fun every day. Whether it's escaping to see a funny movie, reading a great book for a half hour or meeting a friend for a cup of coffee, a small daily break will give you the strength and stamina you need to continue in your role as caregiver. At the very least—smile, even if you don't feel like it. And look for the humor in things; even small bits of laughter can change your mood and boost your health.
8. Know your limits. Should you really be lifting your mother to and from bed yourself? Taking on all of your elderly aunt's yard work? Tackling those home repairs for your disabled grandfather? Some caregivers have the time, physical strength and desire to go above and beyond—but make sure you're doing these tasks safely and ergonomically so that you don't injure yourself. Lots of heavy lifting and assisting in another person's mobility can lead to overuse injuries, back problems and falls for the caregiver. Learn how to do these things safely and correctly or call in reinforcements when you can't handle something yourself or start to notice it taking a toll on your body. Home health aides can be of great help, as can retrofitting your loved one's home to make mobility and accessibility easier for them (and less of a burden on you). Although you may want to do it all or feel obligated due to financial restraints, always remember that if you become injured in the process, you will no longer be able to help.
9. Count your blessings and find gratitude. If you look for it, you will find gifts during even the most difficult of times. On a daily basis, I found myself feeling incredibly grateful for so many things. My brother and sister and their spouses, along with my husband and I, all pulled together as a team to divide and handle whatever needed to be done. I never felt alone! My children went above and beyond to help out wherever needed. Friends called and offered help constantly. As a coach, much of my business is done by phone or online, so I was able to continue working while away from home. But mostly I felt blessed to still have parents to care for and that I wanted to do so from the bottom of my heart. Look for the silver lining. There is much you can glean from even the hardest of life's challenges.