Caring for Yourself When Caring for a Loved One
As baby boomers age, more people who are not professional health care workers find themselves caring for their aging parents. As a caregiver, you’re more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough sleep or physical activity, or eat a balanced diet, which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
If you are a caregiver, remember to take care of your own health and well being, because if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
Here are some tips for taking care of yourself as a caregiver:
Find out about caregiving resources and support groups in your community. Caregiving services such as transportation, meal delivery, or housekeeping may be available. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations.
Set realistic goals
Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine. Say no to requests that are draining, like hosting holiday meals.
Keep a list of tasks that others can do, and let the helper choose a task from the list. For example, someone could run errands, prepare a meal, or provide respite, giving you a break from caregiving duties.
Seek social support
Stay in touch with family and friends who can offer emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
Keep yourself healthy
Establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active on most days of the week, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water.
Give yourself a break
Know that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.