Helpful Self Care Tips for Family and Friend Caregivers

Avila Home Care admires and values family and friends who have taken on the role of caregiver for their loved ones. Tasks can vary, from helping with daily activities such as bathing and dressing to more difficult duties such as helping to manage a chronic disease or a physical disability. Needs can also vary, and caregivers need to be flexible and able to adapt, which does not come without its challenges. Here are some ways family and friend caregivers can look after themselves while looking after their loved ones.

 

Look after yourself and your own health. This may seem like easy enough advice but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when surveying home caregivers, found out that most neglected their own health needs. It was reported that only “79.3% of caregivers aged 45 years and older reported having had a routine checkup in the past year” and that “36.7% of caregivers reported getting insufficient sleep”. Taking the time to have regular physical and mental check-ups can have a positive, beneficial effect on your overall health and well-being, says the CDC, and can certainly help you to provide the best level of care for your loved ones when you, yourself, are feeling healthy in body and mind. The National Institute on Aging also emphasizes the need to make yourself (when possible) a priority saying, “Take care of yourself. It is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver”.

 

Create a schedule, and make sure to carve out time for self-care. When looking after a loved one there may be lingering feelings of guilt about what you feel you should or shouldn’t be doing for that person. This doesn’t have to be the case. As Caregiving.org states, “As there is no “perfect parent,” there is no such thing as a “perfect caregiver”.  You are not selfish to sometimes think about yourself and your needs and feelings.” You should not feel badly asking for time to yourself, or saying no to duties that may be more “draining than nurturing”. Caregivers statistically tend to be women and oftentimes they put their needs aside for the needs of their loved ones. Setting limits is important.

 

Take time to educate yourself about your loved one’s condition, and learn about peer support resources. There are many online and in-person support groups and they can be a significant source of support and information, especially for caregivers who may not know all the ins and outs of their loved one’s pain or suffering. It is normal and natural to feel overwhelmed or stressed when dealing with a diagnosis you may know very little about, and connecting with others who are going through the same thing is helpful. The AARP emphasizes the power of support groups, “talking with other family caregivers can lift your spirits and help you think through solutions to various problems”. Sharing your experiences with other caregivers who are going through a similar situation to yours will make you feel less alone. Check out the AARP’s online caregiving forum where you can connect with experts and other local caregivers.

 

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Family and friend caregivers may not ask for help out of fear of being rejected, questioned, and even judged. This can be a very isolating experience, and caregivers may also have concerns about others doing a good enough job of caring for their loved ones. Home care services like Avila Home Care can help. While we understand that caring for a loved one as a family member or friend certainly has its rewards, we also understand the physical, mental and emotional toll it can take to look after a loved one for an extended period of time. When combined with other life responsibilities such as a job or taking care of children, caregiving for a loved one can be overwhelming- but you are not alone. Avila Home Care will be with you and your loved one every step of the way, starting with one of our registered nurses assessing needs, matching you with one of our wonderful caregivers, and customizing a care plan that works best for you.  Call us at 410-826-6100 or visit our website at Home (avilahomecare.com) for more information. 

 

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