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Six Energizing Tips for Caregivers
Source: The Care Guide
Caregiving is tough. Find out how to minimize stress, care for yourself and
continue in your caregiving role without having to succumb to illness or early
The nature of your caregiving responsibilities can kill you. Or, at the
least, deplete your vitality. A scary thought, proven and re-proven by years of
research. There’s good news though, if you’re willing to focus some energy on
self-care. Risks of shortened life and of illnesses connected to the stress of
caregiving drop off dramatically if you alter your behavior slightly.
Caring for a person with dementia, Alzheimer’s or physical impairments is one
of the most stressful roles women take on. You run here and there to medical
appointments. You manage activities, social events. You feed, maybe clothe and
bathe them. It’s a lot like mothering children.
Except these child-like needs are wrapped in an adult body, complicating the
tasks and creating stress. You’re dealing now with a person of heavier, bigger
stature. Someone who once was as capable as you. Is this fair? Subconsciously
you feel they ought to be able to manage some of this, oughtn’t they?
Consciously, you feel unkind or selfish when you’re impatient. The struggle
grows. Your feelings are normal.
There’s help available. Let’s start
with a half dozen ways to improve your well-being as you provide loving care for
- If you’re already feeling ill-effects from your caregiving role, contact
your doctor and discuss a multi-component intervention that features a certified
interventionist. It’s a big idea and takes time, but can save your life.
- If you’re feeling signs of depression – more than occasional sleeplessness,
moodiness, hopelessness – see a doctor specializing in depression and get on a
- Join a support group. They really help a lot. You'll feel better sitting in
a group of plain folk who were going through exactly the same thing youare going
through. Contact your local mental health agency, a facility for elders (like a
nursing home or residence, a geriatric practice, a senior center) and ask for a
- Get respite help. This is critical. At least once a week, find someone
qualified, even if you have to pay them like you once paid for childcare.
Arrange for half a day’s respite. Go shopping, to a movie, visit a friend. Don’t
call home. Leave emergency contact info with the respite care person.
- Contact your area agency on aging and dig deep to get to know them. They are
a wealth of resources, information, assistance and even, sometimes, financial
aid. They’re there to help you. Use them often and well.
- Pay close attention to your diet and your rest patterns. Eating healthy,
nourishing foods goes a long way to maximize health and energy. Never skip a
nourishing meal in favor of a chore. The chore will wait. If you have to, join
one of the well-know weight loss programs, not necessarily to lose weight, but
to learn how to feed your body. Sleep. Rest. Every day. If you can’t, you need
to see your doctor, pronto. Walk more. A new study of indigenous peoples who
live well into their 100s indicates they all walk – often, and with friends.
These are just a start. There are dozens of things you can do for yourself to
diffuse stress and you’ll want to spend some good time considering that. It
isn’t selfish – it’s survival. Take care of yourself, your friends and family
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