If you find yourself exhausted and sleep-deprived because a large part of your day is spent caring for a loved one, you are probably in need of some caring too. Though caregiving can be a rewarding experience, most of us forget that a caregiver needs to be healthy in order to give care. Many continuously burn out all their energy and often face health troubles of their own.
Self-Care for Caregivers
Statistics show that people aged 66-96 who are caregivers to their spouses or relatives are at a 63 percent higher chance of premature death than their peers who are not caregivers. Recent studies also show that nearly 66 million of us are active caregivers and with an increase in the aging population, in about 20 years almost every middle-aged individual will be a caregiver.
Research shows that 46 to 59 percent of caregivers are depressed and may also suffer from other conditions like hypertension, sleep disorders and other chronic health conditions. This could be because most caregivers, who spend a big chunk of their time with the person who needs the care, often neglect their own health. With such a big chunk of the population sharing a common crisis, it is imperative to understand the importance of self-care for caregivers.
Tips for Developing a Self-Care Plan
Self-care is extremely important for caregivers, especially when the person is juggling a job, their own family and everyday chores along with being a full-time caregiver. If you or someone you know is in a situation where life just seems to be spiraling out of control, it is time to take a breather and revisit everything.
Here are a few ways in which you can take care of yourself without giving up your responsibilities:
Take time to reflect:
Take a break, reflect on the situation, write down your priorities and don’t forget to add yourself to the list. Once you have your list, organize it in a way where both yours and your loved ones’ needs are catered to.
Build a team:
Everyone needs a support system, so build your core team of best friends, siblings or spouse whom you can rely on 24/7. It definitely helps to have someone to talk to or simply run small errands for you.
Take a look at your health:
Focusing on a loved one’s health often takes the focus away from your own. So, make sure you give your health some attention too by staying up to date with your appointments and medications if any.
Find a stress-buster that suits you:
Stress is a major part of a caregiver’s life, so try different techniques like yoga, meditation, Tai-Chi or simple breathing exercises to relieve stress. It might also help to exercise regularly, so find the time to fit in your favorite workout.
Caregiving does not come with a user manual and we are forced to learn as we go, so it becomes even more essential to remember that as we focus on the person who needs our care, there is no selfishness in devoting some time for self-care too because in our well-being lies the well-being of our loved ones.
Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.caregiver.org/taking-care-you-self-care-family-caregivers
Caregivers need care, too: A primer for those caring for ailing loved ones. (2018, January 11). Retrieved from https://aleteia.org/blogs/christophers/caregivers-need-care-too-a-primer-for-those-caring-for-ailing-loved-ones/