If you’ve been providing care to an elderly family member or friend, you know all too well the pressures and stress that can come from being a caregiver.
Doing good, but feeling bad
Despite all the good that comes from such caregiving, there are, unfortunately, aspects that can negatively affect the caregiver.
- Be physically taxing and sometimes, downright exhausting.
- Be emotionally challenging.
- Rob you of your personal time.
- Adversely affect your relationships with others.
- Negatively affect your ability to work a job.
- Can result in a lack of care of one’s own self.
If this is you, you aren’t alone. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans are caregivers. They spend an average of 24 hours a week providing care. And most caregivers have other jobs beyond their caregiving roles.
But support for caregivers does exist. Read on to learn what you can do to help yourself.
Caregiving can be stressful. Such stress can lead to problems like back pain and trouble sleeping. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy and strength to handle the demands of caregiving.
Here are some signs you might have caregiver stress:
- Feeling angry or sad
- Feeling like it’s more than you can handle
- Feeling like you don’t have time to care for yourself
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Having trouble eating, or eating too much
- Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
Take care of your body
When you are caring for a loved one, it can be hard to take care of your own health. Caregivers are more at risk for colds and the flu. They are also more likely to have long-term health problems, like arthritis or diabetes.
Here are a few things you can do to take care of your physical body:
- Eat healthy to keep your body strong. Making smart food choices will help protect you from heart disease, bone loss, and high blood pressure.
- Get active to help you make it through the day. Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking fast or dancing.
- Take steps to prevent back pain, like keeping your back straight and bending your knees when you lift something heavy.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
Take care of your mental health
Caregiving can also affect your mental health, which can include becoming depressed.
Here are some steps to stay mentally healthy while caregiving:
- Find ways to manage stress. Start by taking a few slow, deep breaths.
- Do something for yourself. Set aside time each day to do something you enjoy. Try reading, listening to music, or talking to a friend.
- Ask a neighbor to visit with your loved one while you take a walk.
- Get support from others to help you cope with the emotional stress of caregiving.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk with a doctor about depression.
Ask for help
You don’t need to do it all yourself. Ask family members, friends, and neighbors to share caregiving tasks.
It’s also a good idea to find out about professional and volunteer services that can help.
One fantastic source of support is our in-home care provider company, Care & Comfort at Home for Seniors and Veterans. We provide respite for those caring for loved ones. You can click HERE to read more about our in-home care services. And, by clicking HERE, you can contact us today for more information and a FREE in-home consultation.
Resources for caregivers
- Services and support groups for caregivers of veterans
- Community-based services for older adults and caregivers – like transportation, meals, and caregiver support programs
- Information about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease
Some information courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services