Family and Friend Caregivers’ Health and Wellness in the Baltimore Area

Avila Home Care often receives calls from family and friend caregivers who feel overwhelmed with all their responsibilities. Dedicated to giving the best care to their loved one, they often don’t have time to prioritize taking care of themselves. These caregivers may also be balancing parenting their own children, and/or professional obligations. In this article, we’ve included some local resources and tips for the ever-important self-care, so that family and friend caregivers are best able to care for their loved ones.

Prioritize Your Own Health
If your own health is suffering, taking care of someone else will be much more challenging. Make sure you’re getting an annual physical from a Primary Care Physician (PCP) and write on your to-do list TODAY to follow up with those specialists you’ve been meaning to schedule an appointment with. Many providers are offering telehealth appointments prompted by pandemic health safety concerns- so this is a great time to check in with a physician from the comfort of your own home! For a list of local health providers in the Baltimore area, search here in Baltimore Magazine’s annual issue “Top Doctors” by specialty, location, etc.

Take out Your Planner, and Schedule Time for Yourself!
Seriously- whether it’s in your Outlook calendar or that trusty paper-based planner, before the start of every month, carve out AT LEAST one hour every single day to do something you enjoy- whether it’s a walk with a friend, reading a good book, cooking your favorite meal or taking out those knitting needles for some meditative alone time. Do not feel guilty- taking time for yourself is not just for you- it’ll make everyone around you happier too.

And exercise every day! You can check out a local YMCA to sign up for classes or go swimming, or maybe get back to that gym you loved pre-pandemic. Spend time in nature- there’s good reason that Forest Bathing is all the rage now. Check out these trails in the Baltimore area- many of which are within just a few minutes’ drive: Best trails in Baltimore, Maryland | AllTrails and 12 Gorgeous Hikes Near Baltimore for All Levels – Urban Outdoors (theurbanoutdoors.com).

Maybe tennis was your passion years ago, but you haven’t picked up a racket in decades. Call up a friend and head out to one of the hundreds of free tennis courts in the area: www.TennisBaltimore.com | Baltimore Tennis Courts

Setting Limits is Important
While you have your Outlook calendar open or that paper planner out to carve out time for self-care, take a look at your caregiving schedule. Some of you may be thinking “What schedule?! I have to be on call 24/7 whenever needed!” This is exactly the point. It’s so important to set limits. If this means reaching out to friends and family to schedule them to relieve you occasionally, or to pitch in on a regular basis- do it now- there’s no shame in asking for help. Even just an hour or so here and there can make a tremendous difference to your well-being.

Write down a list of names of friends and family who you think might be able to help out, and email, text and call them to get them scheduled. Asking for help with specific tasks is a good idea- such as picking up groceries, doing laundry or simply coming over to keep your loved one company. Suggest they read to your loved one, listen to music or watch a movie together. Anything that can get you out of the house and give you a break.

Also consider whether it might be time to seek out professional caregiving for your loved one in their own home, or perhaps it’s time for them to move to a long-term care facility, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), assisted living or a nursing home.

The leadership team at Avila Home Care can help you assess the specific care needs of your loved one and navigate the difficult decisions and conversations about managing their care. Avila can send one of our experienced nurses to your loved one’s home to do a free assessment, and we can create a customized care plan to meet your loved one’s needs. Avila also serves clients who live in other settings- including long-term care facilities as well as hospice- in fact Avila is the preferred home care partner of Brightwood Senior Living, Springwell Senior Living, and Gilchrist.

Find a Professional Therapist or a Support Group

Talking to a professional therapist, especially someone who specializes in helping caregivers, is a good idea. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Mental Health Association of Maryland | Mental Health Training and Advocacy (mhamd.org) has great resources for you and your loved ones.

Likewise, connecting with people who are going through a similar situation can be very helpful.  The Baltimore County Department of Aging has an extensive list of local support groups for caregivers. If your loved one is dealing with a specific condition, you can look up relevant organizations such as the Greater Maryland Chapter (alz.org) of the Alzheimer’s Association, or the Parkinson’s Foundation | Better Lives. Together. for support, and to educate yourself about your loved one’s diagnosis and prognosis, as well as possible treatments.

You are not alone- our team here at Avila Home Care is here to help you and your loved one in whatever setting they call home. Call us today at 410-826-6100 or visit our website at Avila Home Care.

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