Caregiving might not actually be your full-time job, but it can sure seem that way. Taking care of an elderly loved one can be a heavy responsibility, especially as many caregivers lack the specific training and expertise to truly prepare them for the role. Family caregivers are often trying to balance many daily tasks simultaneously, and are spread too thinly. While your focus might always be on your loved one and making sure they're safe, comfortable, and happy, it's equally important that you look after your own happiness, too. A drained, fatigued caregiver isn't going to be able to provide the best care possible, which is ultimately a disservice to your loved one. But caring for them doesn't have to mean forgetting to take care of yourself. One of the hallmarks of an effective long-term senior caregiver is remembering to manage your own stress. These simple tips will help you to manage your stress, but for even more help reach out to our in-home care experts at Senior Helpers.
Ideally, you'll be able to attend to most minor issues yourself or at your loved one's local physician's office, without having to worry about rushing to the hospital or paying a hefty bill. But many caregivers worry about an issue arising that they're ill-equipped to handle. You've never be able to address everything yourself, but give yourself some peace of mind by getting trained in CPR, reading up on your loved one's basic health risks, and keeping a first aid kit ready at all times.
It's common for caregivers to view their role as a solitary, isolated responsibility. Well, that doesn't have to be the case. Your loved one might be your responsibility, but that doesn't mean you have to bear the burden alone. If you need to step out for a few hours, don't be afraid to ask a friend or neighbor to sit with them or take them for a walk. Even asking a friend to run errands you don't have time for—like going grocery-shopping once a week—can relieve you of a great deal of stress.
You can't care for your loved one if you're suffering from fatigue. Whether it's exercising a few times per week or eating a balanced diet, setting personal health goals is essential for stress-relief. Even simple things like getting regular sleep or doing at least one physical activity per day can go a long way toward maintaining your health and reducing your stress
It can be easy for caregivers to unknowingly isolate themselves, and feel guilty about spending time with their friends. Staying connected to your social circle is important. Make a point of going out at least one night a week for something fun, and always have something on your calendar to look forward to. An active social life can make your elderly home care responsibilities more manageable.
As a caregiver, it's natural to overwhelm yourself with responsibility. You'll get used to saying “yes” so often and attending to their every need that you might forget it's equally important to say “no”. Trying to do too much is exhausting, and will ultimately make you a less effective caregiver. All you can do is provide the highest level of care you're capable of. Sometimes it's necessary to say no to hosting that family dinner, or running that extra errand for something that can wait till tomorrow. Stay aware of, and respect, your time. Breaking larger tasks into smaller steps, and prioritizing your duties, can also help make your day feel more manageable.