You don’t have to be a caregiver for long to realize that it is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It can leave you mentally, physically and emotionally drained and at times, more than a little overwhelmed. However, even when you are providing care for a senior loved one, you also need to set aside the time to take care of yourself. Below are some suggestions for self-care that are incredibly important for your own long-term health.
Talk It Out
There will be days when you feel anger. Or depression. Or guilt. These are all normal reactions to the stress of caregiving and do not mean that you are a bad caregiver. It just means you are human. Find a friend, family member, support group or minister from your church, someone you can trust to talk your feelings over with. It will make them much easier to handle.
Eat Right and Exercise
You are concerned about your loved one eating healthy — so take that concern and also apply it to yourself. If you are living off caffeine and convenience food because you don’t feel like you have the time for more, make the time for it, anyway. An unhealthy diet with little or no exercise can cause weight gain, extra stress on your body and can weaken your immune system so that you are more vulnerable to infection and disease. Then who would take care of your loved one? Taking care of yourself is the best way to be able to take care of them, too.
Get Adequate Sleep
Even if you have to hire overnight or 24 hour caregivers in Tampa Bay to achieve this, make sure that you are getting a good night’s rest. Sleep deprivation can lead to many of the same problems that you experience if you have a poor diet or sedentary lifestyle. Researchers also say there is a definite link between sleep deprivation and obesity as well as increased risk for heart disease. It can also wreak havoc with your emotions, which are under stress to begin with. So go to bed as early as possible, give yourself a little down time before sleep, and catch the zzzz’s you need.
Don’t Do It Alone.
Last, but definitely not least, don’t do it alone. Ask other family members to help with the elder care, preferably on the regular basis, so that you get time off, too. If this is not possible, ask friends or members of your church to help and consider hiring a trained agency caregiver to help with your loved one’s care. Whatever you decide, getting the appropriate respite can ensure your health as well as the safety and comfort of your aging loved one. Click here to learn more about trained and professional caregivers from Home Care Assistance of Tampa Bay.
Above all, be patient – with yourself and your loved one. You are in this for the long haul, so do not expend all your energy in the first few weeks or months, when you might be taking care of your loved one for years. Eating right and exercising, venting your feelings and getting help to take care of your loved one are all ways to make this situation sustainable and it will keep you and the one you love safer and happier in the long run.