The Importance of Taking Care of You — Caregivers
“It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing.” — Mother Teresa.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, over 53 million Americans cared for a loved one or family member in 2020. Of those caregivers, 21% reported their health was fair to poor, and 23% say caregiving has made their health worse. Caregiver stress is one of the main reasons family caregivers seek out the benefits of memory care communities and assisted living communities. If you’re one of the millions of caregivers exploring your family member’s senior living options, this blog post can help. It will examine the benefits of self-care for family caregivers and give you a resource for exploring senior living communities near your.
Why prioritize you?
Caring for a family member is a full-time job. And while it can be very rewarding and emotionally fulfilling, it can also take a toll on both your physical health and mental health. That’s why one of the best ways to take care of someone else is to care for yourself.
While caring for a loved one, which of the following have you noticed about yourself?
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor eating habits
- Failure to exercise
- Failure to stay in bed when ill
- Postponement of or failure to make medical appointments
If you’re experiencing any, some or all of these, you’re putting yourself and your family member at risk. Here are some suggestions for ways you can recharge your caregiver batteries:
- Start with loving yourself: Being kind to yourself helps lay a strong foundation for self-care. To begin, give yourself credit for the tough, complex work of caregiving. Next, allow yourself time — even if it’s just for a few minutes a day — to take care of yourself without self-judgment, including not always allowing time for yourself.
- Practice mindfulness: A great way to reduce stress is by doing this simple breath awareness exercise for just 10 minutes a day:
- Find a comfortable place to sit.
- Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath.
- You should expect to have distracting thoughts that come and go. When you find yourself focused on your to-do list instead of your breath, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose for five counts, hold and pause for five counts, then exhale for five counts.
- Continue for 10 minutes. You may substitute phrases for the counts such as:
- I breathe in calm and relaxing energy.
- I pause to let the quiet energy relax my body.
- I breathe out and release any anxious or tense energy.
- If this breathing exercise isn’t for you, there are other mind-body stress-management techniques you can consider like yoga, tai chi and meditation.
- Stay socially connected: Finding a support group of local caregivers will help you meet other people who understand what you’re going through and help you feel connected. Hospitals and local organizations often offer support groups for family members and caregivers.
- Eat healthy: Missing meals can lead to irritability and fatigue, so it’s important to eat nutritious, regularly scheduled meals throughout the day. A well-balanced diet can also help increase your energy and reduce sluggishness. Over the long term, eating well can even reduce your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
- Get enough sleep: For optimal health, your body needs seven to eight hours of restorative sleep each night. To achieve more restful sleep, create a predictable daily 10-minute nighttime routine. Your nighttime routine can include your breathing exercises, meditation or yoga poses. You should also limit mobile devices to two hours before bed, sleep in a cool, dark room, and wear comfortable pajamas.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise can help you sleep better, reduce depression and tension, and increase alertness and energy. If it’s hard to find the motivation and time to exercise, start small — like walking 20 minutes, three times a day — and build from there.
- Find time for hobbies: Engaging in hobbies you enjoy will help reinvigorate you and remind you of who you are, outside of being a caregiver. To help you find the time, ask family, friends, and professionals to help care for your loved one. Rediscovering what brings you happiness and peace will allow you to be the best caregiver you can be.
Discover the Personal Care Your Loved One Deserves
At Eagle Senior Living we know nothing is more important to you than the care of your loved one. That’s why we feature personalized plans designed to meet your family member’s wants and needs. Plus, you get peace of mind knowing our highly trained team is available 24/7 so you can focus less on being a caregiver and more on the connection you share. To learn more about Eagle Senior Living or to find an assisted living or memory care community near you, use our community locator.