We hope you are well. Today, we have the honor to have a guest blogger to talk about caregiving.
By: Kathy Birkett, Co-Founder at the Senior Care Corner
You are proud to be a caregiver.
You stepped into a role that not only meets the needs of your loved one but brings you personal fulfillment as well. You will never look back and regret the decision you made to become a caregiver.
Whether you provide oversight and assistance from afar by bringing meals, transporting your loved one to appointments or doing yard work on weekends, or you are a fulltime live-in caregiver doing all daily tasks for your loved one, it can drain you.
Caregiving affects your time, treasures and talents in every aspect of your life. You may be devoting more and more of your time to caregiving. What was once a few hours a week quickly becomes a full time commitment for you and possibly your family members. It might mean you have little time for your partner, kids or even your job. At times you may be paying for things that are not affordable for your loved one but you feel are a necessity. You may be paying for technology that makes your caregiving experience easier. You may find yourself investing not only your finances but also your energy meeting the needs of your loved one emotionally and spiritually. Caregiving is not always easy. Because it is often a role that will not be filled with thank yous from the person you care for so lovingly, you must find it in yourself to know that what you are doing is valuable.
Providing that value to others can affect your well-being too if you are not careful. Being aware of the potential for burnout is the first step in recognizing the toll caregiving can take on you and taking action to avoid it. If you are burned out, you will not be able to provide care for the one you love or even care for yourself.
Strategies to Avoid Burnout
- Get enough sleep every day. Prepare yourself for sleep, give yourself plenty of time in your day’s schedule to allow for enough sleep. Begin a bedtime routine that allows you to properly wind down so that when you climb into bed, you can sleep deeply. Be sure your bed is comfortable, the room is at the right temperature and the light level is appropriate to keep you sleeping all night.
- Get enough to drink. Stay hydrated throughout the day as you go about your duties.
- Don’t neglect your own preventive medicine appointments. Stay on top of your personal health. Get a flu shot, shingles shot, pneumonia shot and any other immunization for which you are eligible.
- Wash your hands. Wash thoroughly and often. This will help prevent the spread of germs and lower the risk that you and your loved one will become ill.
- Smile! Maintain a positive outlook. Don’t let simple, day-to-day pressures get you down. Look for ways to de-stress when you feel tension. Take frequent breaks if your loved one pushes your buttons. Find the funny in your day!
- Ask for help when you need it. Maintain your personal network of people who can offer a hand with a particular task, an afternoon off for you, a shoulder to lean on and advice to keep you going. Join a support group either locally or online. You will be able to learn more about caregiving, tips to cope with situations that are common among caregivers and gain expertise from those walking in your shoes. You are not alone and will need to seek support before caregiving duties become overwhelming.
Being a family caregiver is a life changing experience that will bring you joy and purpose, and sometimes frustration. You are providing a gift for your loved one of unspeakable value. You are doing what you are meant to be doing.
In order to do your best and meet the needs of everyone for whom you care, it is vital that you care for yourself first.
We wish you health and happiness!
Kathy Birkett is an experienced caregiver and Co-Founder of Senior Care Corner, which is a resource for insights and tips for family caregivers of seniors. There she provides information to help family members in their role as caregivers and in caring for their own needs.