Caregiving for our aging loved ones is both a challenging and rewarding experience. It’s important to stay healthy and balanced as a caregiver, but it can be difficult to find time for self-care when you’re spending so much time caring for others.
As a caregiver for the elderly, you deserve to feel good about yourself and have time for relaxation. The more you take care of yourself, the more effectively you can care for others.
Self-care may seem like an indulgence when there are so many other people who need your help. But if you want to continue giving, without burning out, it’s essential that you find ways to keep yourself healthy. Here are a variety of ways to relieve and manage stress as a caregiver for the elderly.
Make Time for Meal and Snack Breaks
Caregiving requires immense physical and mental energy, so making sure you take breaks throughout the day to rest, eat, and drink water is extremely important. If you are caring for someone who lives with a chronic condition, you may need to adjust your break times to accommodate their needs.
If you work from home, try to create a dedicated “office” space for work so that you can separate work from home and family activities—this will help to reduce stress and improve your productivity. Having a dedicated space for your work will also help you avoid feeling guilty about spending too much time on work when you have other people relying on you.
If you work outside the home, try to get regular breaks throughout the day so that you can keep your energy levels up and avoid burnout.
Tell People You Care About That You Need Their Help
If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, it’s important to talk to people you trust and ask for help. You’ll feel better knowing that others are supporting you, and they’ll be glad that they can do something to help.
Try to avoid feeling guilty about asking for help, even if you’re not 100% sure how you’ll repay it. Being a caregiver for the elderly is a rewarding but big responsibility. There are times when it’s perfectly okay to ask for help, and it’s important to realize when you need it. You don’t have to figure everything out on your own.
Home care and other methods of being a caregiver for the elderly can quickly become a task that’s too much for one person, especially when you also have a life of your own. Don’t make yourself a martyr—go ahead and ask for help when you need it.
Have a Support Network You Can Rely On
A support network includes family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You can also join a support group or online caregiver community to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
When you feel alone, it can be difficult to find ways to care for yourself as a caregiver. Having people to turn to can help you manage stress, avoid isolation, and stay positive when you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.
Caregiver responsibilities are overwhelming but universal. Join a caregiver support group to help you feel less alone.
Meditate or Practice Yoga
Healthy coping strategies like yoga and meditation can help you reduce stress, improve your health, and make you feel more connected to yourself. Studies have shown that regular meditation can improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
It can also help you to become more mindful and in the moment, which can be helpful when you’re feeling overextended. If you’re not sure where to start, try taking an online class or reading a book on yoga or meditation. You can also try practicing guided meditations using an app like Calm or Headspace.
Go Out With Friends
Spending time with friends can help you to avoid feeling burned out as a caregiver. You can go out for dinner, to the movies, or to a museum—whatever sounds like fun to you. This also helps with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Try to find ways to fit in social time, even if you don’t have a lot of free time. Make it a priority and stick to your schedule once you make it. If you have young children, you may have to be creative about how you find social time.
You could try hosting regular coffee dates with friends, taking your kids with you when you meet up with neighbors, or finding other ways to socialize, no matter how busy you are.
Watch a Favorite Show or Movie
It can be difficult to know what to do when you’re home alone with your loved one. Watching your favorite show or movie can help you to relax and enjoy some “me” time. It can also help you to distance yourself from the emotional and physical stresses of your everyday caregiving tasks. If you do not want to watch television, try reading a good book, listening to music, or taking up a new hobby like knitting or gardening.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep can help to reduce your stress levels and improve your health. Getting too little sleep can interfere with hormone levels and affect your immune system. When you’re sleep-deprived, it also gets difficult to concentrate, be productive, and feel good about yourself.
Try going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. And make sure that your bedroom is a place where you can relax and sleep soundly!
Check out this information on respite care for more about how you can take the time you need to care for yourself.
Make Time for Self-Care Rituals
Try to find ways to incorporate self-care rituals into your daily routine of being a caregiver to the elderly. This could be anything from taking a break to go outside, enjoying a favorite meal, or reading a book. Find a way to treat yourself that feels good. You deserve it! You may find that incorporating self-care rituals into your daily routine makes it easier to take time out for yourself.
Develop a Self-Care Plan and Stick to It
If you find that you don’t have enough time to take care of yourself, you may need to develop a self-care plan. This is more than an after-work plan to relax. It is a plan for making time for your self-care needs.
In other words, it is a plan for getting all that you need to do for yourself (and others) done during your day. It may take some trial and error to find a self-care plan that works for you, but it will be worth it in the end.
When you’re a caregiver for the elderly, it can be easy to put yourself last. Just remember, when you take care of yourself, you’re better able to care for others.
Caregiver for the Elderly Support Program
Contact us for more information on how we can connect you with support groups, caregiver respite care, and other resources to help you provide the best care possible for your loved one.