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Tips on caring for a loved one

Tips on caring for a loved one

Tips on caring for a loved one
Tips for caring for a loved one

 

Approximately one in three adults in America is a caregiver for another adult. Caregiving for a loved one is a gift that has its share of rewards as well as challenges. Caregiving can involve housework and home maintenance, shopping, transportation to medical appointments and activities, personal hygiene, and even giving medications and other medical treatments. It’s physically and mentally demanding.

The most important aspect of being a caregiver is self-care. This might sound counterintuitive, and it’s true that self-care frequently falls to the bottom of a caregiver’s to do list, if it even makes the list at all. Just because you’re caring for another doesn’t mean your own needs disappear.

Don’t confuse self-care with being selfish. It’s anything but. Self-care helps to foster the emotional and physical stamina required to care for an aging parent. If you’re not mentally and physically healthy, you won’t be able to care for someone else in the way you desire. Caring for yourself benefits the person for whom you’re caring.

Make self-care a priority from the start. Here are some tips for caring for yourself and reducing stress while you’re taking care of a parent:

  • Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and hydrate. Being well-rested and having a nutritious diet make a solid foundation for your well-being.

  • Exercise. Even something as simple as a 15-minute walk can help you to sleep better, reduce tension and increase energy. Squeeze in some stretching or yoga. Small amounts of activity add up to big benefits.

  • Meditate. Take a few minutes for any type of meditation you enjoy, from conscious breathing to moving meditation like tai-chi or yoga.

  • Be gentle and compassionate with yourself. As roles become reversed with your parents, it is normal to feel sad, angry, frustrated, and alone. This can even lead to outbursts, which give birth to guilt. These feelings aren’t a sign that you don’t love your parent, they are simply part of the emotional rollercoaster of caregiving.

  • Don’t go at it alone. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Have a ready list of how people can help with simple tasks such as sitting with your parent so that you could fit in a short walk, picking up groceries or medications, doing laundry or yard work, cooking a meal, or sorting out paperwork. People want to help each other. Choose a task that you think the friend or family member might enjoy or is particularly suited to and spread out the requests for help to as many people as you are able. That way, no one will feel burdened.

  • Keep your own doctor’s appointments. Don’t put off your own care, and talk with your doctor about your caregiver role, as it impacts your health. Seek out a counselor or therapist to listen.

  • Don’t neglect your social life. Connecting with friends and supportive family members is critical. Ask someone to join you for a walk or a cup of coffee and make a date in your calendar.

  • Find a caregiver support group. Those that are walking the same path. Not only will you find an empathetic ear and possibly make some friends, you will get practical suggestions for solving the problems and challenges you face as a caregiver.

Caring for an aging parent is a wonderful gift. While you’re giving this gift of love and commitment, be sure so show yourself the same love and commitment through your own self-care.

To learn more health and wellness tips, visit emblemhealth.com or follow EmblemHealth on Facebook and Instagram.

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