Throughout our lives we go from being cared for by our loved ones, to potentially caring for those same people who took care of us from the very beginning. Each caregiver is unique, and each experiences different challenges depending on their loved one’s situation.
November has been officially declared as National Family Caregivers Month. Caregivers are anyone who provides care for another person in need. During this month, we are able to celebrate the many efforts of caregivers and increase their support across our nation. According to The Mayo Clinic, caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care in the United States. The theme for this year is “Take Care to Give Care.” It is so important as a caregiver to not forget to take care of yourself when caring for a loved one. The role of a caregiver can be extremely physically and emotionally demanding and can put you at a higher risk for developing health problems. If you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of your loved one?
There are many signs and symptoms that caregivers experience when there is an unhealthy amount of stress in their role as a caregiver. Some of these include gaining or losing weight, sleeping too much or not enough, feeling anxious or sad, having aches and pains often, and depression.
Below are a few strategies for managing caregiver stress:
- Maintain a healthy diet. Proper nutrition will keep your energy and stamina levels high and your immune system strong.
- Establish a good sleep routine. Recharging your body for each day is important to be able to effectively care for your loved one.
- Stay physically active. Endorphins can help you keep a positive attitude throughout the day.
- Be willing to accept help and ask for help when needed.
- Seek support from other caregivers. These people can provide advice and validation during difficult times.
- Seek out caregiving services in your local area. These could include meal preparation and delivery, housekeeping, financial services, home health care, adult day programs and more.
- Take respite breaks when necessary. Respite breaks may be considered a luxury by some and it can be hard to leave your loved one in the care of someone else. However, it’s important to take personal time away to re-energize and reduce your risk for developing stress-induced conditions.