Caring for an ill, aging, or disabled person can be a rewarding experience; however, informal caregivers often forget about the need to take care of themselves as well. Family or informal caregivers (caregivers who are not professionals) give free assistance with daily tasks like getting dressed or eating as well as transportation and grocery shopping. It can be overwhelming to take on the responsibility day in and day out, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well.
Caregiving Burn Out
A burned-out caregiver isn’t much help to anyone, including themselves. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed all the time, you may be putting your own health at risk. To deal with stress, try relaxation techniques that can help relieve stress like meditation, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation. You can learn more about relaxation techniques here. Exercise also helps with stress relief, giving caregivers a break from their duties and keeping depression at bay. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, and make time for yourself. Staying connected to friends, family and activities you love is important for your well-being, even if it’s only 30 minutes a week.
As the disease progresses, you may need new caregiving skills. Many institutions offer programs to help you better understand and cope, such as The Alzheimer’s Association. Furthering your education can ease the stress of caregiving, especially if you are able to focus on the specific illness or problem you’re dealing with. If you’re feeling ill equipped, go online and search for the national association of whatever issue you have questions about. These organizations’ websites usually have information on how to give the best care, local support groups, and more.
Taking Care of You
If you need help juggling the duties of being a caregiver with the rest of your life, consider a care manager. Care managers help families work out plans to meet a loved one’s needs as well as helping caregivers find the right services to cope with their burden. Hiring a care manager is similar to hiring a CPA to help with tax problems: care managers help the family find better and more efficient ways of providing for loved ones. The cost of a care manager might only be a fraction of the savings a care manager could produce, in addition to the reduction of stress on the family. Search for a care manager in your area here.
Caregiving can be challenging, but with the right help and resources you can be an enormous help for your loved ones. You don’t have to do it alone. Baptist Health offers several support groups to help cope if you need it. Click here to search for a support group for your needs.