One classic mistake caregivers often make is expending all of their energy taking care of others, which can be exhausting, frustrating, and stressful. Caring for an elder can mean getting more involved in medical consultations, appointments and treatments; assuming responsibility for household chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.; changing your work schedule to accommodate additional driving on their behalf; or even packing up your whole life and moving across the country to be with the person that needs your assistance.
If you are assuming caregiver duties for anyone, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. By neglecting your own needs, you may suffer from exhaustion, develop health problems, or begin to feel burned out entirely. Here are some tips for dealing with the stress that comes with the role of caregiver.
- Make your health a priority. Eat nutritious foods, make sure you are getting enough sleep (you’re never too old to nap), and find time to exercise. These three simple pieces of advice are the foundations on which anybody can pursue a physically healthy existence. Don’t forget to maintain your mental and emotional health as well – don’t bottle up difficult emotions instead of confronting them! If you’re not feeling good yourself, you’re not exactly well equipped to care for another.
- Get organized. Being prepared can eliminate a great deal of the stress that comes along with being a caregiver. Identify your priorities, establish a calendar, and create to-do lists. This will help you ensure that you are not letting anything important slip through the cracks.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t be everywhere all the time. If you don’t have time to play chauffeur or get the household chores done, ask for assistance! Friends, family members, and even neighbors can be fantastic sources of help. Saying “no” to a request may make you feel briefly guilty or selfish, but it is far more helpful than backing out at the last minute!
- Consider professional community resources. If your role as caregiver means that you have less time to spend on chores, it may be wise to consider paid help like the services we offer here at Metropolitain Home Health, which includes nursing, certified home health aides, companions, homemaking and 24-hour respite care. We know how much time and effort goes into caring for others and we have all the experience to meet all your individual needs.
- Take a break every now and then. Go out for an evening with your friends. Plan a weekend getaway. Even better, save up for your dream vacation! You deserve it! It will do a world of good for both you and your ward to spend some time with other people, and getting through stressful times is always easier when you have something to look forward to in the future. Include these breaks in your budget and you won’t find yourself breaking the bank.