By Karen Weeks
Taking care of a senior loved one can be an all-consuming job, but it’s important that you make taking care of yourself a part of your lifestyle. You might think you can put it off until things settle down, but you will actually be a more effective caregiver with better self-care now. Here is how to find balance between tending to your loved one and tending to yourself.
Who are the Caregivers?
Statistics show that 80 percent of caregivers in America are family members. Most caregivers have a life partner and most try to manage caregiving along with a job. With so many obligations, caregivers often find themselves unable to sufficiently care for themselves, their families, their homes, or even the senior they are trying to help.
No matter how much you love someone, tending the needs of a senior with chronic ailments is a burden. It creates stress in your body, and wears on you physically and mentally. According to US News and World Report, caregiver stress is linked with numerous physical and emotional concerns such as heart disease, stroke, depression, obesity and premature death.
Add some deep breathing exercises or meditation to your daily life to help with stress. Communicate with your spouse and other family members about how you are feeling. Also discuss with your senior the need to balance your care for them along with your other responsibilities.
Some experts recommend employing in-home care service on a regular basis to give you a break. You can also hire services to help you with weekly chores, such as cleaning and yard work. The average cost of maid services in Towson is $171, so make sure the expense fits into your budget. Even employing a cleaning service once a month can be helpful.
It’s important to reach out for help with caregiving. Ask for family and friends to pitch in. Getting relief from cooking a meal here and there, running an errand, or a few hours of one-on-one care will make a big difference in your stress level. Take those opportunities to do something for yourself. Exercise, take a nap, visit with a friend.
Adjust Your Outlook
DailyCaring emphasizes keeping a healthy outlook as a part of self-care. One of the most important things you can do is learn to say “no.” Recognize it’s not your job to be all things to all people. Taking on too much leaves you without the time and energy to do things well. You don’t need to aim for perfection, either. Setting the bar too high sets you up for disappointment and guilt.
A Wellness Program
Caregivers benefit from incorporating strength and flexibility exercises into their daily routine. There is no need for a gym membership. You can set up your own home gym with a few handheld weights, a yoga mat (available on Amazon for $15.99) or an exercise ball could turn a small patch of floor in the living room into your exercise space.
Experts suggest setting up a spot in front of a window with a view or with a mirror to check your form. Some people like to watch television for a diversion. Whatever works for you is fine. Adding just five to 10 minutes throughout the day will help.
Don’t overexert; if you find you aren’t able to talk while exercising, take it back a notch. Also make sure you are getting sufficient sleep. Seven to 10 hours per 24 hours is needed for your body and mind to function well.
As someone who takes care of a senior loved one, it’s important to find balance in your daily life. Caregivers can be subject to tremendous stress that can damage their mental and physical health. Take steps to manage your stress level and time effectively. Don’t take on too much, and make your own wellness part of your daily routine. Taking these steps toward a more balanced life will help ensure your own well-being.