If you are a caregiver, you are working hard, often times around the clock, to take care of
your loved one. Are you taking care of yourself too? You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.” This is absolutely true. There are countless stories about caregivers who neglect themselves and consequentially become ill, fall into depression, or just burnout. Don’t let this happen to you, make a resolution that you will take care of yourself in 2013. It’s the best gift you can give your loved one.
Here are a 3 ideas to get started.
1. Take regular breaks. Not just a 20 minute break, plan for 2 hours away from the house at least once a week. No one person can do it alone. Nor should she. Enlist the aide of family, friends, or hire a professional agency that provides well-screened professional caregivers for respite (relief) care. If you hire an agency, make sure they are insured and bonded.
2. Ask for specific help. Grocery shopping, meal preparation, housecleaning, washing clothes…if a family member is willing to help, assign them a specific chore and a deadline. Better yet, create a calendar and schedule tasks and breaks. Impress upon your helpers that reliability is needed, meaning, don’t volunteer unless you can commit and follow through.
3. Care for your health. Focus on sleep, nutrition, exercise. If you can’t get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep during the night, take a short nap during the day. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink water throughout the day. Limit refined sugar found in energy drinks, soft drinks, and baked goods. Go for a 30 minute walk every day. Or try yoga or dancing to music if you can’t get outside.
Best wishes for a healthy New Year!