Taking care of yourself is your number one priority as a caregiver. This at first might seem counter-intuitive, or even selfish on our part, but consider one simple fact.
If something happens to you then what is going to happen to the person you are caring for? So it is a combination of not only taking care of yourself but also taking the necessary time so that you can have some time of your own.
I understand this isn’t easy with your hectic schedule, but in all sincerity it is the only way that you are going to get some relief in your life as well as deal with some of your own stress.
How To Take Care Of Yourself
Some basic tips, which I will elaborate on, include…
- Asking for help when you need it (this isn’t the time to try and be a super hero)
- Join a caregivers support group
- Take breaks for you each day
- Spend time with friends during some of your down time
- Keep up with your own hobbies and interests
- Eat healthy and exercise on a regular basis (preferably daily)
Getting The Help You Need
Everyone needs help at times. And the first thing that you need to understand and appreciate as a caregiver is that it is OK to ask for help. Most caregivers when they are starting out are afraid to ask for help, whether it is out of inconveniencing others or the feeling that only they can take care of their loved one.
But as you will quickly find out between everything else going on with your life, and that could be…
- Your job
- Your second job
- Your family
There aren’t enough hours in the day for you to do everything that you need to do. You will need help. And as I have written in my respite care post, there are ways out there to find the help you need. What it requires most of all is the realization that you can’t do it all and the willingness to ask for help.
And as I write in my male caregiver article, setting up a support system of people that are ready and willing to help you will enable you to continue to live a (semi) normal life while at the same time getting the proper care for your loved one.
The story of Ed Mitchell serves as a great reminder that you can do it all, if you plan it…
Some Reminders About How To Get Help
- Have the guts to open your mouth and ask. In most families, one caregiver does about 99.999% of the care giving. That doesn’t mean that others aren’t necessarily willing to help…you just need to ask.
- This help can be simple things…making a meal, visiting, doing some errands for you or taking your loved one out for a short time
- Joining a caregiver support group will allow you to be around people who are in the same position you are in. You will not only get emotional support but also could learn practical tips to alleviate your burdens.
- You may also wish to seek out home health care to provide respite care for you as well.
- Adult day care centers can provide a much needed break for you as well.
These are some of the tips that you will begin to lean on as a caregiver in order to get through your day while helping your loved one.