Taking care of a loved one when he or she needs it most can be incredibly rewarding. It can also help you build a closer relationship with that person as you spend more time together.
However, caregiving can take a toll on the caregiver. It's not uncommon for a caregiver to be juggling their usual responsibilities (like work, home, and family) while adding the responsibility of caregiving. This double-duty can lead to caregiver burnout, "...a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion." It happens when the caregiver feels overworked and potentially can have a great effect on your health.
As a caregiver, you have to pay careful attention to your own health to ensure you're able to provide the best care and maintain your own quality of life and respective responsibilities.
Here are a few tips to guide you and help you maintain a good quality of health while you care for a loved one.
Take Care of Your Needs
Caregiving is a part of your life, but it's important to acknowledge there are still many other things that require your attention. Failing to keep up with those can lead to overwhelmed feelings. If you're feeling unwell, address that. Keep your own doctor's appointments, exercise routine, healthy eating habits, and time to yourself.
You can't be at your best for your loved one if you're not taking care of yourself.
Staying organized is important when you're a caregiver, and part of that is organizing your loved one's medication schedule. Don't rely on your memory; it can be overwhelming. There are many resources available to help you set and keep a schedule. Consider these options:
- Hero: This is a pill dispenser sorts pills and delivers the right dose at the push of a button; visual and audible reminders tell you when it's time to push. There's an app that will send you notifications if the medication is running low.
- MyMedisafe: A free medication tracker app reminds your loved one what to take and when, and as the caregiver you can be notified if he or she misses a dose.
- Pria: Another smart pill dispenser, it tracks medication doses and when they are missed. The corresponding app offers reminders, health data tracking, and more.
Maintain contact with your friends and family. Socializing improves the health of your brain, boosts your immune system, and helps you relieve stress. Make plans for lunch or coffee; these are easy ways to incorporate socializing without taking extra time out of your day.
Stay active in your favorite religious or community organizations.
Hire some help with caregiving so you can take a day or a weekend off to spend time with your family. If you feel like doing nothing but relaxing on the couch at the end of the day, consider a video chat with a far-away friend.
You'll also want to have quality time with the loved one you're caring for. It's not all about helping them with daily tasks. Enjoy a walk or a drive, visit a local hot spot or tourist attraction, go out for lunch, play games, or watch a favorite comedy together.
The best part of caregiving is getting to spend time with your loved one, so make the best of that time and plan an activity that you can enjoy together.
Ask for Help
You don't have to do this alone. There are almost 40 million people in the United States who are acting as caregivers. Your closest support team may include your family members and close friends. In some cases, hiring a part-time caregiver can help you get the rest you need so you can provide the best care when it's your turn.
In all cases, there are a number of resources in Georgia , your immediate community and online that can assist.
AARP Family Caregiving: The website offers tips and advice on caregiving and achieving balance in your life, stories from caregivers like you, and a support line where you'll find free assistance.
Caregiver Action Network: Here you'll find tips and a community of caregivers who are able to answer your questions and offer support.
National Institute on Aging: A great source for tips, articles, news stories, and more.
Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services: Talk to the information specialists at Georgia's Aging & Disability Resource Connection for nearby resources and more.
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving: In addition to tips and resource lists, this organization provides training, tools, and more to help you become a great caregiver while taking care of yourself, too.
In some cases, professional short and long-term care may be a good choice. Contact us to learn more about person centered care services. We invite you to visit us and get to know how we can help you and your loved one.