Family caregivers are often unsung heroes, not always recognizing that they are a caregiver, rather they are just ‘doing their job’. This year, the theme for National Family Caregivers Month is “Take Care to Give Care”, which ties in with our last article on noticing the signs of burnout (link to article).
Caregiving can be anything from mowing the lawn, to carrying out chores, taking your family member back and forth to hospital appointments, cooking meals, bathing and dressing your loved one. Often, family caregivers are managing extra responsibilities alongside running their own household and managing a career, or are in fact elderly themselves.
Being a family caregiver is emotionally challenging. Many caregivers experience a range of emotions including guilt, anger, despair, sadness, and fear. Obligation can way heavy, especially if your family member requires a considerable amount of care.
Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself, so in return you can give the best care possible to your loved one. We recommend creating a self-care plan so that you build in time for you. If not you may burnout, or become sick and no longer able to help your loved one.
For your self-care plan, think about the items that relax you, or hobbies and interests you enjoy. Brainstorm ideas and then work out how to fit a few of them in. Ideas include:
- Going for twenty minute walk each day
- Mindfulness coloring
- Spending time with a friend
- Reading a book
Making time for you will stop you from burning out and being resentful of all the people wanting a piece of your time. Getting enough sleep is essential, nap if necessary. Remember to stay hydrated and eat well.
Take help from other family members, friends or neighbors when offered. We find that many of our elderly clients initially try to care for their spouse by themselves, not wanting to ask for help from others. Do not feel that you must shoulder everything alone. Take people up on their offers of yard work, grocery shopping or pet walking.
There is also no harm in working with a caregiving agency such as Americare Philadelphia. We can help share the workload, even if it’s just for a few hours so that you can go off and run your own home, take time out from your spouse, or go to see a friend without worrying about leaving your loved one.
Take care to give care.