Hello everyone, today I have a new article brought to you by guest blogger, Jeff Anderson, who writes for assistedliving.com. We are pleased to have him contributing to our blog and giving you some new information on how to live a more fullfilling, healthy life as a primary caregiver. Check out Jeff’s article below!
Caregiving is tough, and the price of taking on the load that comes with taking care of a loved one is steep, not only financially, but also in terms of your own health. Caregivers suffer from higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, depression, and diabetes than non-caregivers. This is due to a number of factors, but essentially boils down to the fact that caregivers are consistently under a lot of stress while lacking the time to form healthy habits. Here are a few ways to help you manage your health without abandoning your loved one.
Sharing the Load
The biggest preventable stressor for a caregiver is simply not having enough time in the day. Living your own life while also at least partially managing another adult’s life while working (as many caregivers do) is simply too much. It leaves us eating stale Doritos in the car instead of having lunch, and getting home late in the evening to find spouses and children already in bed, making us feel as though we’re leaving half of our daily to-do list undone.
There is no magical do-everything solution to this, you need to get help. Though most elderly people with disabilities have multiple children and friends and extended family that could provide help, the responsibility will usually settle on just one person: you. The only way to share the load is to contact those people and delegate specific responsibilities to them. Many of us are afraid to have someone else step in, thinking that our loved one will feel abandoned, but it’s important to remember that there are other people that your loved one should interact with as well, and who have a vested interest in their well-being.
Once you’ve freed up a little bit of time in your day, you should make an effort to take care of yourself. Go out and exercise, take the time to eat well, and sit down and relax for the occasional break. Allowing yourself to de-stress for a moment can help you manage your blood pressure, and reduce your risk for a variety of stress-related illnesses. Also, creative pursuits like painting, or poetry, can help you work through the stress and emotional toll that caregiving takes.
Going to the Doctor
Regularly visit the doctor, and heed your physician’s advice. One of the most common reasons that caregivers place their loved ones into assisted living care is because of their own declining health. Taking the time to actively monitor your health and address possible issues will maximize the duration that you’ll be able to care for your loved one, and help to prevent or delay a future where your own children will need to do the same for you.
Nurturing Other Relationships
Go and spend time with your spouse, children, and friends. Being a caregiver does not obligate you to neglect or dissolve your other relationships, and allowing that to happen can further complicate your life. Not only can your friends and immediate family provide personal support, but they can help you to care for your loved one better. Additionally it gives you and your loved one more to talk about than your stress and their illness, which will improve both of your stress levels.
Making sure that you are a happy and healthy person will make you a better caregiver for your loved one, and will ensure that you remain able to help out as long as possible.