According to the National Alliance for Caregiving over 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member during any given year. However, many caregivers don’t think of themselves as caregivers. You don’t have to be providing full-time care to someone to be a caregiver. If you help a parent with grocery shopping, laundry or bills, you’re a caregiver. If you assist a loved one with dressing, bathing or other daily activities, you’re a caregiver. If you keep track of appointments, medications, and planning for future needs for someone else, it means you’re a caregiver.
Being a caregiver can be fulfilling and incredibly rewarding, but it can also be frustrating and difficult. It’s important to remember the most important person a caregiver takes care of should be themselves.
"Caregivers are amazing people," said Janet Bollig, MSSW and Home Health United Outreach Manager. "They need and deserve to be taken care of as well."
What can you resolve to do to help alleviate stress and take care of yourself?
Give yourself a break. Taking time for yourself is so important, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. Make it a priority to do something you enjoy on a regular basis, see a movie, read a book, go out with friends, spend a quiet hour by yourself. Look into respite care for your loved one. Caregivers need breaks, and patients need breaks too. Giving each other a little space every once and awhile can go a long way.
Take care of your health. Eat healthy, make time to exercise, get enough sleep, manage your own health and wellness. You can’t take care of others if you are rundown.
Join a support group. Talking with others who are facing the same stressors and challenges can be so beneficial. Sharing tips and tricks as well as being able to share feelings and emotions with those who understand is so important.
Ask for help. You don’t need to go it alone. Help is out there for both you and your loved one. There are many resources available to you, ranging from non-skilled care (help with daily activities like meal prep, grooming, dressing, and bathing) to skilled care (such as home health services, palliative care, or hospice). It’s okay if you don’t know where to start. Reach out to local organizations like your areas Aging & Disability Resource Center, health care agencies, or your primary care physician for suggestions.
Hopefully the New Year finds you and your family healthy, happy, and doing well. This year, Home Health United urges all caregivers to make a resolution to not forget themselves in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Take care of yourself this year and in the years to come.
Home Health United is a nonprofit agency providing home health, palliative care, hospice, home medical equipment, home infusion pharmacy services, and community health services. For more information or to request an Informational Visit please call 1-800-924-2273.