3 Things You Can Do to Prioritize Self-Care If You are a Caregiver

10 Feb, 2018 by

3 Things You Can Do to Prioritize Self-Care If You are a Caregiver

Thank you to Lydia Chan of Alzheimerscaregiver.net for providing this article.

Caregivers shoulder so many responsibilities that it is difficult to make self-care a priority. Yet, if you feel exhausted or discouraged, you cannot provide the best care for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. While November is the time to raise awareness of the disease and spend time with others facing the same struggles because it is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Family Caregivers Month, you need to permit yourself to socialize and put some of your needs first throughout the year.

1. Take Advantage of Respite Care

Full-time caregivers have countless responsibilities. It is easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged when you feel as though you have to do it all. That’s why one of the first steps toward prioritizing self-care is lightening your load to give you time to attend to your needs.

For example, take advantage of local services offered by your Office of Aging or another nonprofit. These services include respite care to give you time to run errands, attend an appointment, or get a massage or take a yoga class. Respite care may include in-home care services, adult day centers with planned activities in a secure space, or residential facilities. Some caregiver support groups also offer respite care during the meeting, so you can attend a session and get the support and resources you need.

2.Hire Helpers to Relieve Yourself of Some Responsibility

Another way to share some of your responsibilities as a caregiver is to hire helpers. If you want to hire someone to clean your loved one’s home, or your own, look for recommendations on social media, place an ad in a local newspaper, or hang flyers around town. You may be surprised by how affordable independent house cleaners can be.

Another option is to hire a dog walker. Many seniors have dogs whom they love, and caregivers do not want to give the dog to a shelter or another family member because of their bond. Yet, caregivers struggle to take walk dogs when they cannot leave their loved one alone. That’s where dog walkers come in. Dog walkers will take the dog for a 30-minute walk as often as you need, whenever you need. If you have a smartphone, scheduling a dog walker is a simple process that takes a few seconds, and you can cancel whenever you need to.

3. Find Ways to Relieve Stress throughout the Day

Finding ways to relieve stress throughout the day is one way to avoid getting burned out and feeling exhausted and discouraged. While you may not be able to get a massage each day, you can do small things that will make a significant impact on your stress level and mood.

Helpguide offers several tips for relieving stress each day, especially when you don’t have much time. For example, if you have one minute, you should take a few slow deep breaths and repeat quietly, “I am” while breathing in and “at peace” while breathing out. Repeat the process two or three times while sitting comfortably to feel your entire body relax. If you have five minutes, massage your neck and shoulder muscles with your hands and then your face. Then, place your hands loosely over your face and take deep breaths.

Another way to relieve stress is to spend time petting your loved one’s dog. Studies show that petting a dog lowers stress hormones and helps you feel calm and relaxed. Researchers also found that interacting with a dog reduces your heart rate, blood pressure, fear, and anxiety. Spending time with a dog is one way to make yourself feel better each day, reduce your stress and anxiety, and help you remain mindful and focused in the moments when you begin to feel discouraged or overwhelmed.

Your job as a caregiver is vital to the health and well-being of your senior loved one. To provide the best care possible, you need to take care of yourself, too, by taking advantage of respite care, hiring helpers, and relieving stress throughout the day.

Article Author

Lydia Chan

Image via Pixabay by sabinevanerp

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