Caregivers are most effective when they are well-informed, practicing consistent self-care and aware of their own limitations. If you are a family caregiver, here are some tips to help you remain happy, healthy, and wise about your role.
Tips for family caregivers #1
Self-Care Isn’t Selfish!
Ask yourself,“what good will I be if I become sick?” You can’t help others if you become sick, chronically ill or overwhelmed.
- Get proper rest and nutrition
- Set aside time each day for yourself
- Take a walk, relax, or read a book
Tips for family caregivers #2
Set Relationship Boundaries
Caring for a family member makes sense for many reasons – familiarity, instincts to help/protect, and financial constraints. However, one of the main stressors is blurred relationship lines/ boundaries.
Define your roles and have a conversation with everyone involved to understand when you have to make decisions as a caregiver vs. child.
- Be well informed about your loved one’s current situation – understand what they can/can’t do for themselves. Don’t feel you have to do it all. It will help them maintain a sense of independence if they remain responsible for some decisions.
- Evaluate early on what you’re willing and able to do. Caregiving often is not a one-person job.
- Prioritize needs—including yours. Then, be realistic and set expectations as to when/how you can meet the demands of those you are caring for.
Tips for family caregivers #3
Know the Signs of Burnout
We all have moments of feeling overwhelmed, over-burdened, and stressed out; watch for caregiver burnout. If you consistently exhibit these behaviors, it’s time for a break:
- Lack of sleep
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Failure to exercise
- Failure to properly care for yourself when sick
- Skipping regularly scheduled medical appointments
- Forgetfulness 4. You’re Not Failing by Asking for Help Recognizing the need for—then asking—for help in caregiving is one most important things you can do.
- Ask family or friends for help. Even if it’s temporary, it will give you the break you need to feel refreshed and balanced.
- Get support, encouragement, and ideas from other caregivers. Look into joining a caregiver support group where you can share tips and best practices.
- Look into short-term options. Many senior living communities offer short-term stays to give you a well-deserved break or vacation to recharge and take care of yourself.
Caregiving is an important role. But remember you matter. Your needs are important too. Not only are you ensuring that you’re doing what’s in the best of interest of the person you’re caring for – you’re taking care of you! No one is expected to do it all by themselves.