As a caregiver for someone else, it can be quite easy for you to get lost in the care of the other person, while neglecting your own self care.
But the truth is, you can’t do a good job caring for someone else, if you don’t take care of yourself as well. Here are some tips to ensure that you are taking care of yourself just as well as you take care of others.
Make yourself a priority
On airplane trips, flight attendants always instruct passengers to put their own oxygen mask on first in the case of an emergency, before aiding others with their masks. Why? Because if you become disabled because you didn’t put your mask on first, now both you and the others who needed more assistance will all be in trouble.
People who need your help are relying on you to take care of yourself first, so you are then better able to assist them. So it’s important to make yourself and your own care a priority. Your care must come first — not in lieu of helping others, but instead, because you are helping others, and because you want to do that in the best way possible.
The ways to take care of yourself
You’ll want to make sure that you are taking care of yourself by doing the following:
- Eating healthy foods
- Being active and staying in good physical shape
- Taking time for yourself to relax and do joyful activities
Dealing with your feelings
Caregiving is sure to bring about many different types of feelings and emotions — both positive and negative.
You might find yourself feeling frustrated and angry at others, including people who are involved in the caring process, such as you loved one’s doctor, or people who you feel should be involved but aren’t, such as other friends or family members.
Anger can also be a sign that you are overwhelmed with your responsibilities as caregiver or are simply doing too much.
Worry, anxiety, and exhaustion are other feelings that can set in. And you might also feel guilt. You might feel guilty about not being with your loved one all the time or about your own limitations as a caregiver.
To help deal with these feelings, give yourself a break as often as you can. Take a walk, talk to your friends, get some sleep, and do activities that you enjoy that are purely for you.
Try to remember that, while you are not perfect, you are doing the best that you can do for your loved one. And don’t forget that you and your well-being are important too, and that you would be able to do a good job as caregiver if you neglected your own self care.
Get yourself some help and support
No man — or woman — is an island, especially when it comes to caregiving. It’s difficult to carry the weight and burden of caring for another human being all by yourself. To give yourself the time and opportunity to give yourself a break, you’ll most likely have to get someone to take your place, even if it’s just for a little while.
As an in-home care agency, Care & Comfort at Home provides you with an opportunity for “respite” — taking time out for your own well being. Our caregivers take over for you when you need some time off. We provide many of the services you do, when you act as caregiver — and perhaps even a few more. Our in-home care services include:
- Personal care, including grooming, showering, dressing, feeding, and toilet assistance
- Meal preparation
- Medication reminders
- Respite care
- Light housekeeping and laundry
- Transfers, including hoyer lifts, gait belts, and slide boards
Furthermore, our skilled nursing services provide assistance that most loved ones simply aren’t trained or knowledgeable enough to handle by themselves. In fact, our agency can provide many medical services that many other agencies simply cannot. These skilled nursing services include things such as:
- Setting up pill boxes and administering medications
- Monitoring blood sugar
- Taking blood pressure readings
- Monitoring vital signs, such as temperature and pulse
- Catheter and ostomy care
- Wound care
- Assisting with passive range of motion exercises
- Injections and venipuncture
And much more! Having someone on board who understands medical procedures that you can’t personally provide can lift a huge amount of stress off of a family caregiver.
By utilizing our agency, you can feel assured that your loved one is cared for well, even when you aren’t personally doing the caring. That peace of mind can go a long way in helping you take good care of yourself.
You should also consider joining a caregiver support group, either in your own community or online. Meeting with and talking to other caregivers can relieve your sense of isolation and give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas.
Caregiving is not easy.
Caregiving is not easy for anyone — not for the caregiver nor for the care recipient. There are sacrifices and adjustments that everyone must make. But if you take full advantage of the self-care tips listed above, you can make caregiving a little easier and a little better for you and for your loved one.
Some information courtesy of National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Aging.