Easy Ways To Stay Healthy With A Busy Caregiving Schedule
There are times when maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems impossible. This is often the case when you are caring for a loved one. Grabbing food on the run, finishing chores in place of sleep, and putting off exercise are all choices that eventually become habits when you take on the role of caregiver. This along with the anxiety of doing all you can to give the best care to your loved one can have harmful effects on caregiver health.
A majority of informal caregivers do not acknowledge the title of caregiver. It’s part of life; helping a loved one with health concerns, whether it’s a friend or a relative, comes natural for most people. Managing the extra responsibility becomes the first priority and somehow all the rest will fall in place. At least that’s the hope.
Most often, the added responsibility of caring for a loved one takes a toll on your health. There are things you can do to help you overcome this challenge or avoid this from happening altogether.
The following are tips when the role of being a caregiver becomes part of your daily life. An unhealthy caregiver can’t be there for an unhealthy loved one, therefore caregiver health is incredibly important to everyone involved.
Keep It Simple
The most important rule is to keep it simple. When the words overwhelmed and hectic describe your day, which will most certainly happen, it is time to remind yourself that you are not a super hero. Take on one responsibility at a time. Let your instincts guide what takes priority.
The stress that accompanies a day with too much to do will be eased the quicker you recognize that this is a “keep it simple” day. Confidence will also build with the experience of a well-managed day.
Caregiver health is more than just exercising. Your emotional health is connected to your physical health.
Most of us have experienced negative emotions during busy days. This often leads to saying something you will regret and that leads to more negative emotions. A simple apology or a bad day followed by a good day is the usual remedy to those feelings.
Busy days are every day for a caregiver and that can lead to a lot of frustration, guilt, and regret. Make the habit of forgiving yourself first during these moments. It will help to stop the self-condemnation and, hopefully, bring a smile and chuckle.
Ask For Help
Caring for a loved one is best accomplished as a team. Depending on the circumstances, getting help from a family member or friend will greatly enrich your role as primary caregiver.
An only child caring for a parent may find it difficult to ask for help with the caregiving responsibilities; however, asking a friend to lend a hand with your personal tasks will ease the pressure of trying to do everything. Family members can also help by providing moments of rest to the primary caregiver.
Make a list of people you trust and are comfortable asking for help. Consider the strengths and skills of each person and how it will help your schedule while benefitting your loved one. The next step is asking for help. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do but it will pay off once you make the request.
Another consideration is to hire a professional care service to assist with the daily chores involving your loved one. Among the obvious benefit to your time management, it also is an opportunity for your loved one to experience this situation and will ease the discussion if the need for professional care becomes a necessity.
When Possible – Plan Ahead
Gathering information to assist your caregiving journey is difficult when you are in the midst of all the responsibilities. Taking a moment to research advice and services available before the need arises will make a big difference in your experience. Start with the American Society on Aging’s list of organizations that take care of caregivers and you will be well prepared for what’s ahead.
This preparation will benefit your overall health once you are dealing with the daily responsibilities. Not only will it save you time and effort, it will also set you up with a support network.
Rest & Respite
R & R is key for caregiver health. In this case, R & R stands for REST and RESPITE. Your health will decline if you are unable to get proper rest. A good night’s sleep along with moments during the day when you can shut off the lists and the worries and fill your mind with thoughts that bring peace and calm will restore energy.
Respite care offers caregivers time to take care of themselves while their loved one is cared for by a professional. Respite ranges from a few hours to a couple of weeks, depending on the need. A little research will connect a caregiver to organizations that provide this care service. If needed, one can also find assistance in paying for the respite care.
AARP provides a helpful resource directory that will connect to specific types of help provided in your location.
Caregiver Health Makes The Best Caregiver
Rosalynn Carter, prominent advocate of caregiving, famously stated that there are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.
Taking care of yourself is a necessity; it will happen one way or the other. Making the effort to care for yourself will avoid the negative effects that come from an over-burdened schedule that involves caring for others. Caregiver health cannot be ignored if you want to be the best caregiver you can be!
A healthy and informed caregiver also creates the best situation for all involved. There will always be challenges involving the act of caregiving, but it can be a very rewarding experience when effort is made to prioritize care for your “self.”