Regardless of how much you love your parent and want to take care of them, it’s ok to admit that being a family caregiver can be difficult at times.
Many caregivers struggle with not only the physical, mental, and emotional demands of keeping up with their loved one’s care, but also with additional pressures like financial responsibilities.
It’s only natural to become overwhelmed at times, particularly if you feel responsible for your loved one’s health alongside your own family or work life. This is incredibly common and is certainly not a sign of personal failure.
For some, being a family caregiver can even lead to burnout. If you’ve noticed things getting too much, be sure to address it; living in this chronically stressed-out state isn’t sustainable and could have long-lasting effects on your health and wellbeing.
Here are seven simple ways you can prioritize self-care as a family caregiver.
Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
Sometimes, taking care of the basics can make a huge difference, as they’re surprisingly easy to neglect when we’re in a state of stress. After all, who hasn’t been tempted by takeout after a long and emotionally taxing day?
Luckily, sorting out your nutrition needn’t be complicated or time-consuming. Just be sure to eat three good meals each day with fruits and veggies to combat issues like excessive weight loss or gain, or the dreaded ‘mid-afternoon crash’.
It doesn’t have to be taxing, simply think about how you could fuel your body a little more effectively. Make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water to keep you alert, preventing headaches and grogginess.
Prioritize Quality Sleep
While we’re on the subject of the basics, sleep is another thing you should be prioritizing to ensure good health. No one functions well on too little sleep, and although the specific amount needed varies from person to person, 7-8 hours of sleep each night is a good start!
If you struggle to get to sleep, try to limit your use of electronic devices for a while before bed, and do something that helps you wind down. Taking a luxurious bath, meditating, listening to calming music or diving into a good book are always great options.
Find a Safe Space to Share Your Feelings
This could be a support group, or a trusted friend or family member who understands what you’re going through. Caring for loved ones and seeing their health decline is tough, which is why having a good support network is essential.
Bottling up our feelings is damaging, and speaking to others, particularly those who have been through similar experiences or are caregivers to aging loved ones can reduce feelings of isolation. Oftentimes a senior living community near you provides caregiver support groups that can also be helpful.
Mindfulness has taken the world by storm in the past few years, and though it might seem a little mysterious, when stripped back to the basics it is simply the act of living in the present moment. And the great thing about mindfulness is that you can practice it anywhere, even if you have very little time on your hands.
For example, if you’re doing the dishes, try focusing on the sounds, sights, and sensations. Think about how the warm water feels on your skin and notice patterns in the bubbles. If you feel any worries or external thoughts emerging, acknowledge them and move back to the present. Mindfulness can also be practiced through activities like meditation and yoga, if this is something you are interested in.
Fresh air is good for our minds. In fact, there is a whole emerging area of psychology dedicated to the positive impacts of nature on mental health. Try to spend some time in the great outdoors each day, even if it’s only to sit outside with a coffee for 5 or 10 minutes.
Heading out for a walk on our grounds is an amazing way to take care of your body with some exercise while soaking up all that wonderful fresh air too! At New Hope Senior Living, we offer 18 acres of beautiful land our residents can enjoy! Why not go for a walk with your loved one when you come to visit?
Give Yourself the Praise you Deserve
When caring for a family member, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being hard on yourself but try to remember that you are doing a fantastic job!
Being a caregiver is emotionally and physically taxing, without even considering that you might have other responsibilities to take care of, too. Be sure to take a moment each day to remind yourself that you’re doing great!
Recognize When It Gets to Be Too Much
We’d all love to be able to do everything for our aging loved one, but sometimes we are simply no longer able to. It’s ok to admit this, and important to acknowledge it.
It’s inevitable that at some point, your loved one may start to need more professional caregiver help as they age and their care needs change. If you’re unable to provide the level of care your parent or loved one needs, it’s not a failure and it may be time to consider a retirement community in Hendersonville.
The Take-Home Message…
As a family caregiver, it’s common to feel guilty for prioritizing your own health, but do you provide the best care to your parent or loved one when you’re feeling happy and healthy, or when you’re overwhelmed and burned out?
You deserve to feel good and offering quality care to your loved one starts with taking care of your own needs.
If you’re doing your best and taking care of yourself but still find it hard to cope, it may be time to start looking into alternative care options like residential assisted living in Hendersonville.
If you’re a family caregiver who needs support for a parent or an aging loved one, we’re here to help! Contact us today! At New Hope Senior Living we’re here to offer the support you need to stay well and find balance and provide the quality care your aging loved one deserves. We look forward to speaking with you!