Self-Care for Caregivers
According to the CDC, roughly one out of every four adults acts as some form of caregiver to someone with a long term illness or disability, in an unpaid or informal capacity. It is projected that by the year 2030, there will be about 71 million adults in the United States aged 65 or older, which means that the need for caregivers can only increase from here.
There are plenty of benefits to being a caregiver. Many people enjoy having a useful and meaningful purpose, feeling needed, developing extended friendships and social bonds, and learning about life, others, and themselves. Caregiving for someone at the end of their life can also provide the opportunity for expressing gratitude and love, and allow you to find closure.
However, caring for a loved one will involve a high amount of stress and there is a real possibility of a burnout. Burnout is a state of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion from overwork and is not easily fixed. In fact, it can hurt the health of the caregiver. The AARP has reported that around 20% of caregivers say that caregiving has made their own health worse.
The good news is that burnout can be prevented or mitigated with self-care, even if it’s not always avoidable. Male sure to eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of rest. Comfort foods can be good on occasion, but a well-balanced diet will support your health. Setting limits and having clear expectations can help your mental health as well. Be honest about what you’re willing and capable to do.