Providing care to your parents, grandparents, or others can be truly rewarding, yet exhausting. Quite often, care giving can leave a person feeling depressed, tired, and spent. When you reach the point of sheer exhaustion, it is important to seek professional help. Caring for a loved one will leave most people feeling high levels of stress. The reason why most people feel stress when they care for their loved ones is because they have not received formal training, and they are not prepared to deal with all of the things that are involved in long-term care. Most elderly individuals require a lot of attention, and this puts a strain on the caregiver because they no longer have as much (or any) free time, they don’t have the freedom to attend social activities, or to participate in some of their favorite hobbies and activities.
Helping seniors become self-reliant
When it comes to caring for loved ones, you need to care for yourself first. If you are irritable, tired, and stressed out, you will be unable to properly care for your loved ones. One thing you can do to try and reduce stress is to encourage your loved ones to try and become more independent. You can help them rely on themselves more by modifying their home a little bit. Install a raised toilet seat that includes support bars so they can more easily use the restroom on their own, and reduce your need to help them in the bathroom. As far as showering goes, you could purchase a shower chair and install some support bars in the shower to prevent slips and falls. Installing hand held shower sprays makes showering easier for those with limited mobility or for the caregiver. Installing support bars around the home will save you from the trouble of needing to get to your parent’s home early in the morning to help them get out of bed. When you encourage them to have a little more self-reliance, it will reduce your stress load as you no longer need to worry about performing every single activity for them.
Stress reduction tips
Using simple techniques, you can learn how to reduce stress and enjoy the time you have left with your loved ones. When you are under a great deal of stress, your immune system can weaken and leave you vulnerable to illness and infection. As a caregiver, you cannot afford to become ill so it is important to keep your stress load to a minimum and to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Daily exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress. As you are undergoing a new lifestyle change, exercise will allow you to still have some time to yourself. Exercise is not only good for your health, it also reduces stress and anxiety. Running, biking, and swimming are wonderful ways to reduce stress and to clear your mind.
Another great stress reduction tip is to practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing calms and reassures the nervous system, allowing you to remain calm, cool, and collected. Each time you start to feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes to practice deep breathing. Practicing yoga is another great way to soothe the nervous system, as it combines soothing deep breathing with strength training exercises.
Consider recreational activities that your senior may enjoy as well, such as playing checkers, chess or going for a stroll. This will help provide them with physically and mentally stimulating activity.
Although you are the caregiver, never be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of your loved ones is not going to be easy, and you will need the support and help of others from time to time. If you have siblings, children, or other relatives, give them a call and see if they can help you out. Even having someone else stop by and help them get ready for the day can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
For more important information and tips on reducing the stress of caregiving, read our book Put Your Mask on First! The Caregiver's Guide to Self-Care – available at the Caregiving 101 store.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.