Practicing Self-Care While Caring for Older Loved Ones
Home Instead shares tips on how to prioritize mental, physical and emotional health as a caregiver
OMAHA, NEB, (PRWEB) July 21, 2021 - Family and professional caregivers serve an essential role in the lives of older adults. They provide companionship, assist with daily housework and enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes or a care facility for as long as possible. Furthermore, many caregivers serve in this role while managing other responsibilities, including families and jobs. In fact, more than 77% of working caregivers have had to make major or minor changes to their work or career to meet responsibilities as a caregiver.
As we transition back to a more familiar way of life and settle back into routines, it will be important for caregivers to balance their responsibilities and find ways to care for themselves in order to avoid experiencing feelings of burnout. Finding this balance will be especially important for working family caregivers, who may be managing the transition back to the physical office and busy personal schedules. Working family caregivers may consider having a conversation with their employer to help ease this transition and set expectations.
“Caregivers make such a positive impact on the lives of older adults and give so much of themselves in the process,” said Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “However, caregivers are only human and need to make time for themselves so they can be happy, healthy and in a position to provide the best care to their loved ones.”
Hogan outlines ways caregivers can put self-care into practice:
- Ask for help. One person does not need to do it all. Ask family or friends to support caregiving duties, such as meal preparation or household chores. Or reach out to loved ones about your own personal responsibilities, like shopping or childcare. You may even consider respite care and hiring a caregiver through a professional caregiving service.
- Carve out time for breaks and activities. Be intentional about setting aside time for yourself. Take a short walk during the day, practice yoga or connect with friends. Your needs are still important, so consider scheduling this time into your day so it remains a priority.
- Don’t feel guilty. Putting another person’s needs above your own is rewarding and valuable. But for family caregivers especially, you may feel it’s your duty to devote all your time and energy to care for your aging loved one the way they once cared for you. To avoid feeling guilty, focus on making the time spent together meaningful.
- Eat a balanced diet. Caregiving can put a strain on your overall physical health. One way to combat this is to maintain a healthy diet. Nutritional foods packed with vitamins, such as dark green leafy vegetables, enriched grains and nuts can help protect you from illnesses and provide a much-needed energy boost.
- Guard your mental health. In addition to physical health, it’s important to take care of your mental and emotional well-being because your feelings and emotions are just as important. When you simply need a listening ear, share your feelings and discuss challenges with people close to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, communicate with loved ones, find a support group of other caregivers or find time to talk with a professional, if needed.
Caregiving is often looked at as a selfless task. But, much like oxygen masks on airplanes, you must take care of yourself first. After all, practicing self-care is not selfish. To ensure you can provide care in the fullest capacity, prioritize your own physical and mental health.
SOURCE Home Instead®
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