Being a caregiver is a difficult undertaking and it’s important to remember to take care of YOU so you can effectively take care of others. Caregivers can face an increased risk of developing heath issues, including depression, sleep deprivation and chronic conditions including high blood pressure — and caregivers often find themselves neglecting their own health and well-being.
Here are some important ways to take care of you, as the caregiver:
MENTALLY & SPIRTUALLY
1. Say “No.” Remember that you don’t have to do it all. When appropriate, know that it’s OK to say “no.”
2. Get organized. Take the time to find a system that works for you, whether it’s lists on your refrigerator or reminders on your phone.
3. Acknowledge your feelings. It’s OK to be sad, upset or scared about things you’re going through as a caregiver. You don’t have to be cheery and happy every second.
4. Let it go. You’ve got a lot on your mind, so find a way to get it out: Write in a journal every night, talk to a trusted friend or work with a therapist.
5. Set boundaries. When you set boundaries, you are more likely to stick to them — and help save yourself stress from unsavory situations.
6. Exercise. Take a brisk walk every day. Not only will this benefit you physically, but it will help to clear your mind, too.
7. Eat right. Be sure to give yourself plenty of healthy food options and eat nutritionally-balanced meals to keep up your strength and overall health.
8. Get regular checkups. When you call to make a doctor’s (or dental) appointment for the person in your care, be sure to take the time to schedule your own.
9. Sleep. Try for at least eight hours of sleep each night to keep your body rested and ready to combat any potential illnesses.
10. Rest when sick. The sooner you are back to optimal health, the sooner you can give full care to your loved one.
11. Connect with friends. Maintain your friendships or make new ones. Spending time with peers is important to retaining your sense self.
12. Find a hobby. Choose something you enjoy doing — a yoga class, scrapbooking, a book club, etc. — and make sure you do it every week.
13. Seek support. It’s important to find someone, such as a support group or another caregiver, who understands the unique challenges you face.
14. Plan fun. Give yourself something to look forward to by scheduling something fun. Do this regularly.
15. Schedule “me” time. At some point each day, do something that’s only for YOU. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie or something else that brings you enjoyment.
16. Ask for help. Whether it’s from family members, friends or health professionals don’t be afraid to receive help before you become overwhelmed.
17. Seek professional assistance. When possible, find out if you can delegate any of your responsibilities— whether these are for you (such as housecleaning, etc.) or your loved one.
18. Take care of your finances. Talk to an accountant or financial director about your financial means to make sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin. Ask about medical benefits available.
19. Write it down. Keep a list handy to jot down things to discuss with doctors, information to look up and resources to ask about, etc. so you won’t wonder if you’re forgetting anything.
20. Consider other arrangements. There are many options available for care, including assisted living communities like American House.
AMERICAN HOUSE CARES
At American House, we know that being a caregiver can be stressful. If you have any questions or would like to see what American House has to offer, give us a call at (248) 579-4422 or visit www.americanhouse.com to schedule a visit.