Being a family caregiver requires a high level of compassion and personal sacrifice, and it’s easy to neglect your own health and interests. But in order to be a good caregiver, you must practice self-care, too. Here are some tips for caregivers put together with the help of HelpGuide.org:
- Take time to de-stress daily. Practice yoga or meditation, take a walk or bicycle ride, listen to relaxing music, or simply unplug and enjoy silence with a free mind. Learn strategies to relieve stress in the moment, such as deep breathing, mindful meditation, or simply removing yourself from the situation for a short time.
- Stay social. There’s no better way to lift one’s spirits than by sharing a laugh face to face with someone who cares, whether it’s through friendship, church, social clubs or civic organizations. Fortunately, technology makes it possible to also connect with other caregivers through online communities such as blogs (like the one you’re reading now!), Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, forums, and even YouTube.
- Write in a journal to sort through your thoughts and feelings. This is especially helpful for caregivers who have trouble sleeping, since it can be therapeutic to write down worries and concerns, then put them away and rest with a clear mind.
- Take care of your own physical needs. Eat nutritious meals at regular times throughout the day to keep up your energy, and try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. Aim for an average of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, and stay strong by keeping up with your own health care, such as doctor, dentist and therapy appointments.
- Maintain balance. It is important caregivers take the time to pursue their own work and activities they enjoy. Sometimes this involves giving yourself a break. Enlist the help of family members when needed, and look into services that can help ease your caregiving burden. For example, reduce the time you spend grocery shopping and preparing meals through services like Mom’s Meals or doorstep delivery of incontinence products.
- Hire professional help as needed. If an elderly loved one needs in-home care, respite care, personal care or companionship, there are services that can help. Visiting Angels is a national, private-duty network that provides nonmedical senior care.
- Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowledge is a great tool for caregivers, from learning about a loved one’s disease to being able to prepare for physical and emotional changes. Many online resources for caregivers are available online with just a few short mouse clicks. Find our guide to self-care, Put Your Mask On First, at the Caregiving101store.com and other retailers such as Walmart and Barnes and Noble.
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.