At some point in our lives, many of us will find ourselves stepping into the role of a caregiver. We may not give ourselves that title, but a caregiver can be anyone who provides support to an ill or disabled person, including aging relatives. According to Mayo Clinic, informal caregivers, like a person’s spouse or children, provide over 80% of long-term care.
No matter how much we love the people we care for, being a caregiver is not always easy. It’s not just the pain of watching a loved one suffer that causes stress. The role-reversal of taking care of your mother, father, or grandparents can be very jarring and frustrating for both parties. It often results in a loss of privacy for both as well. Tensions can brew between you and your loved one, giving rise to pointless arguments and criticism.
As a caregiver, communication is one of your most important stress management tools. Sharing your emotions with others can provide an immediate measure of relief. Unfortunately, being a caregiver often means you spend little time out with friends and people you can vent to. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Set aside time to talk to someone about your role of a caregiver at least once a week. Find time to leave the house or ask your friends to come to you. You can also communicate by phone or by internet.
If you aren’t comfortable sharing your thoughts with friends, seek comfort in a private setting instead. Contact your local public health organization here to find out if there are support groups for caregivers in your area, or get in touch with a counsellor who can talk one-on-one. There are also online forums for caregivers to discuss their common concerns.
When you’re focused on someone else’s health, it can be easy to forget about your own. Don’t lose sight of your own personal health goals. You should always be sure to fuel your body with healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and establish a good sleep schedule.
Though you may not have time for an extensive workout, you can still find little ways to get your 30 minutes of exercise per day. Take the dog for a walk or a romp around the backyard. Get outside and tend to the garden. Do simple exercise moves while you’re watching TV.
Caring for your loved one is important, but it’s just as important to take care of yourself. After all, you can only do your best if you make time to ensure you’re well.