Caring for a sick loved one can put a strain on your health. It can be emotionally draining, causing stress that can wreak havoc on your health. Similarly, in your desire to care for the other person, you may neglect your own physical needs. You may discover that your own health is deteriorating as you try to care for your loved ones, and if your health deteriorates, you will be unable to assist. As a result, it’s critical to look after yourself. It is not in anyone’s best interests if you become ill. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, as this can relieve some of your burden.
Part 1 Taking Care of Your Emotional and Social Needs
1. Consider what is preventing you from taking care of your own needs. It is more acceptable culturally to prioritise the needs of others. When it comes to being a caregiver, however, you must sometimes take care of yourself. Part of that is determining what is preventing you from caring for yourself.
For example, you may feel selfish for prioritising your own needs. However, what good will making yourself sick do for the person you’re caring for?
Perhaps you have difficulty asking for help, which means you bear the entire burden of caring for the individual. However, everyone requires some assistance when it comes to caregiving, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when you require it.
Allow yourself to prioritise your needs at times so that you can be of assistance to your loved one.
You’ll be a better caregiver if you’re relaxed and at ease, so prioritise self-care so you have more energy.
2. Work through your emotions. When it comes to caring for a loved one, everyone experiences a range of emotions. Guilt, remorse, grief, resentment, anger, and anxiety are all common emotions that must be acknowledged and accepted. It’s also a good idea to find someone with whom you can talk about them, someone who will listen to what you’re going through without passing judgement.
Consider seeing a therapist to work through the emotional toll of caregiving.
Write down your emotions so you can reflect on your blessings and your current situation.
3. Look for others who are in the same boat as you. Contact other caregivers, such as those in a caregiver support group. Listening to other people’s stories and telling your own can help you feel better. In this situation, you are not alone. Others are going through it as well, and they can offer you support.
If you don’t have time to attend an in-person group, look for one online. You are welcome to check in whenever you have the opportunity.
4. As needed, take care of your spiritual side. If you normally have an active spiritual life, try to cultivate that side through prayer, meditation, or whatever you enjoy doing. In general, neglecting a regular spiritual practise can make you feel unbalanced or out of sorts.
If you don’t pray or meditate, consider taking a few moments each day to sit quietly or even write in a journal to get in touch with how you’re feeling.
5. Find a way to unwind. You should spend some time each day doing something you enjoy that relaxes you. This will help you keep your sanity and health. You’ll also be a better caregiver if you’re more relaxed. Simply find something small that you enjoy and work it into your day.
Listen to calming music or meditation tracks to help you relax and boost your immune system.
To ease into the evening, take an Epsom salt bath before bed.
Perhaps your break could consist of a short walk outside or a few minutes of doodling.
6. Spend time with people you like. Sometimes all you need is to hang out with your friends and laugh. If possible, try to take a break to spend time with your friends or family. You’ll be able to feel more like yourself, rather than just a constant caregiver.
If you can’t meet in person, make frequent phone calls or video chats so you can spend time together.
Make sure to schedule some alone time for yourself so you can unwind and relax.
Part 2 Taking Care of Yourself Physically
1. Set boundaries. You are the only one who knows how much of your time and energy you can devote to caregiving. That means it’s critical for you to set boundaries for yourself. You should also communicate your limitations to doctors, nurses, and other caregivers so they know when you will and will not be present.
2. Eat healthily. When things seem out of control, it’s easy to lose sight of good eating habits. You might not eat much, or you might eat junk food. Both of these put you under stress. Try to eat as healthily as possible, even if that means ordering food or relying on simple meals like salads. Sugary or processed foods should be avoided because they can make you feel ill both physically and emotionally.
Remember to eat lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Consume nutrient-dense foods like avocados, walnuts, berries, wild-caught fish, and apples.
Smoothies are a quick and nutritious meal that you can incorporate into your diet.
3. Make an effort to get enough sleep. When you’re caring for a loved one, it can be difficult to sleep. You may be too worried to sleep at times, or the task of caring for others may keep you awake. However, try to get as much as you can, aiming for a consistent 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day, even if you have to do it in smaller chunks. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your health and make you less effective as a caregiver.
4. Make time to work out. Exercising will also assist you in maintaining your health while caring for a loved one. It also has the added benefit of lowering your stress level. However, it can be difficult when you are caring for someone else, so you’ll need to figure out how to fit it into your schedule.
For example, you could go for a short walk a couple of times a day. You could also try yoga or jumping rope at home.
To shake up your routine and make the most of your time, try doing 7-minute workouts in the morning.
You could also ask someone to sit with your loved one while you go exercise for an hour or so. You’ll get a much-needed break as well as the exercise you require.
5. Don’t ignore symptoms of illness in yourself. When you’re caring for someone else, it’s easy to overlook signs of health problems in yourself. However, if you get sick, you won’t be able to help your loved one, so it’s best to stay healthy. In fact, the best plan is to keep up with regular doctor’s appointments and dental checkups to ensure your overall health.
Part 3 Getting Help
1. Determine what your loved one requires. Before you can ask for help caring for a loved one, you must first determine where others can assist. Make a list of everything that must be done to care for your loved one. Make an effort not to leave anything out.
After you’ve made your list, consider what you can realistically do on your own without becoming exhausted. Consider what others might be able to do to alleviate your burden.
2. Seek assistance from others. Remember that you cannot do everything. It is acceptable to seek assistance. Most of the time, people want to assist in any way they can. They may, however, require assistance in determining what you and your loved one require. Talk to each person (friends and family) separately to ensure that your needs are met.
You might say, “I know you’re concerned about Jane. I was hoping you might be able to assist me in some way. Some nights, I could really use someone to bring me dinner.”
Offer the person a task that is a good fit for their skills. Alternatively, if they offer, ask them what they’d like to do to help.
3. Seek professional assistance. When a loved one suffers from a long-term serious illness, professional assistance is frequently required. Respite care is a great way to get help while also giving yourself a break from time to time. Maybe your loved one needs to be in a long-term care facility or spend some time at an adult daycare that can provide care for your loved one a few days per week. Maybe you’ll keep your loved one at home, but you’ll need to hire someone to come over and care for them. In either case, having a professional on your side can help relieve some of your stress.
Some communities provide volunteer respite care workers who will come to your home and care for your loved one for a few hours while you take a break. Your local Area Agency on Aging can provide you with more information about respite care for older adults.
When it comes to your loved one, you may need to persuade them to seek professional help. That is, some people dislike the idea of enlisting the assistance of others. However, most people will agree once they realise you can’t do everything on your own. If your loved one is particularly opposed to the idea, you may need to have someone who has been in the same situation (a caregiver or a professional) come and talk to them.
When deciding who to hire, consider the type of care you require. For example, you may require non-medical assistance to provide services such as bathroom assistance and even cooking and cleaning. Medical care, such as home healthcare, assists with things like medication administration and must be ordered by a doctor.
Some in-home health services may be covered by government programmes such as Medicare. When looking for professional assistance, make sure to ask what your insurance covers.
If your loved one has a terminal illness, hospice care may be a good option for you. Hospice care can provide care for your loved one if he or she has 6 months or less to live.
4. Look into free health-care options. Many community services offer some form of care to people who are ill, especially if they are sick or housebound. Many communities, for example, provide meal delivery services, such as Meals-On-Wheels, at no cost to the person to assist you in feeding them.
Consider the organisations with which the individual is affiliated. Veterans, for example, may be eligible for certain benefits. Members of the Elk and Mason lodges may be eligible for care. Furthermore, church members are frequently willing to step up when members require care. Don’t be afraid to examine all of your options.
5. Concentrate your efforts on the most important tasks. Consider which tasks you could avoid doing yourself, such as ordering takeout or hiring a cleaning service. These services would not require as many people to come in as professional caregiving assistance, but they would help relieve some of your stress.
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