If you are providing care for a parent or spouse, you’re not alone. According to AARP, more than 65 million Americans have taken on the role of a family or informal caregiver. Your responsibilities may include preparing meals, helping to bathe or dress your loved one, managing and administering medication, providing transportation and accompaniment to all medical appointments, and planning all leisure or entertainment activities. It can be a rewarding experience, but also challenging at times.
Unfortunately, taking care of someone else can also put strain on the health of the caregiver, due to one or more of the following reasons:
- If the one receiving care needs 24/7 supervision
- If the care required is strenuous or emotionally challenging
- If there are unreasonable expectations from the loved one or other family members
- If the caregiver is also playing more than one role, such as working or raising a family
- If the health of the caregiver is being neglected
- If there are no or few opportunities for respite care
- If care has been provided for an extended period of time
Many caregivers are hesitant to take time away from those they are caring for. However, it is important to remember that if you become ill and your own health suffers, you won’t be able to care for your loved one properly. While you may not be able to change their health status or other needs that require your time and attention, there are steps you can take to better care for yourself. Finding ways to recharge can make a huge difference in your own physical and emotional health.
Consider these five tips to make practicing self-care a priority:
- Be realistic
Having the desire and intention to provide care doesn’t always mean that you are able. Be realistic in assessing your physical and emotional capabilities, and plan from there. This will also help you determine if, and when, you may need assistance so you can identify and procure appropriate services.
- Adjust expectations
You may believe that you should be able to take care of all of your loved one’s needs. Your family may also share that belief. Your capacity to care for someone is not representative of your love for the person. Set reasonable expectations and remind yourself and others that you are doing the best you can.
- Ask for help
It’s not uncommon for caregivers to think they should be able to handle everything themselves, but that’s an unreasonable expectation. Reach out to others and let them know you need help. Ask if someone could stay with your loved one while you go shopping, take care of other responsibilities or even just to take a walk.
- Look to the community
Take time to find out what services and resources are available in your area. Among other possibilities, you may find meal delivery, transportation or adult day services. Churches or other organizations may offer companionship volunteers to stay with your loved one so you can take a break, and support groups are also available for individuals caring for loved ones.
- Consider formal care
If you need to be away for a few days or if the level of care needed is beginning to exceed your abilities, take a moment to research which formal care services are available. You may be able to bring someone into the home to assist you. If a more long-term solution is needed, talk to an assisted living or memory care community to understand the services they offer.
Taking Care of Yourself
The caregiver tip that should be at the top of the list is to not neglect your own physical and emotional health. Although it may often feel as if there is no time left at the end of the day, it is crucial that you care for yourself.
Following these suggestions may help you to practice self-care:
- Simplify your life
Take whatever steps are needed to simplify your daily life. Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Look for available services, accept help when offered, or ask for it. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
- Make organization a priority
The more organized you are, the easier life can be. Making a weekly schedule can help you see what you’ll need to take care of or what appointments need to be kept. This caregiver tip can help keep you on track and feel less stressed.
- Join a support group
You need support. It can be a big help to have a place where you can talk about your feelings, frustrations and concerns. Other caregivers can provide this, as they are in the same situation and truly understand what you’re going through.
- See your doctor
If you feel that you need more help than talking things through or are concerned about your own health, see your doctor and ask what other resources may be available. You don’t need to go through this alone.
Life at Eskaton Communities
The word Eskaton means “dawn of a new day.” In our communities, we see each day as an opportunity to enhance the lives of our residents. We’ve been serving the Sacramento region and Northern California for over 50 years.
The Eskaton Difference starts with our life-enriching programs and collaborative partnerships. With a national reputation for innovation, we focus on creating communities that provide our residents everything they need for purposeful living. We invite you to visit one of our award-winning communities to discover some of the benefits we offer, such as:
- Private residences
- Delicious and nutritious meals
- Social opportunities to meet and make new friends
- Creative activities and therapies
- Fitness centers and exercise classes
- Housekeeping services
- Transportation services
- 24-hour staffing
- Free Wi-Fi
- And much, much more!
If you’re considering whether a senior living community could be the best choice for you or your loved one, we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. We also invite you to download our complimentary information, A Family Guide to Funding Senior Care & Housing.
To schedule a personalized tour, call us at 1-866-ESKATON (1-866-375-2866) or visit eskaton.org.