Are you finding it more and more difficult to take care of your aging parent? You may not be the only one feeling this way. Millions of caregivers across the country are likely going through the same thing as you.
During this time, you may feel as though you have no time to take care of yourself. If you are not careful, neglecting your needs can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion. In many other ways, caregivers are battling through the day-to-day struggles of helping an older adult while also trying to balance work.
If you can relate to this dilemma, know that there is a way to manage the stress that comes with all your caregiving tasks. In this blog, we will go over five of these. Keep reading to learn more.
- Accept that you cannot do it all.
You are only one person, and there is no way you can get everything done on your own. Do not feel ashamed of this! So many family caregivers try to balance work, taking care of their parents, helping their children, and cooking meals all on the same day. This is a recipe for exhaustion and increased caregiver stress. While it is possible to get all of this done, doing so will not benefit your overall health and well-being. Understand that it is okay to take breaks and reschedule your tasks so that you do not feel too stressed.
Also, do not be afraid to ask for help. Oftentimes, caregivers try to check everything off of their to-do lists because they feel obligated. However, there is nothing wrong with asking for assistance now and then.
For example, if you are having a busy week and do not have time to run errands, call a friend or family member to see if they will get a few items for you at the grocery store, or if they will stop by the pharmacy to pick up your parent’s medication. Remember to give the person clear instructions so they know exactly what you need.
- Join a caregiver support group.
Do you ever feel like you are the only one going through your particular caregiving situation? You are not! Many caregivers have been through your scenario previously or are going through a similar situation currently.
Being part of a Caregiver support group is a wonderful way to receive information, advice, and emotional support from others. In this setting, you can hear other caregivers’ stories, as well as share your own. Also, these groups usually meet on the same day and time on a weekly or monthly basis, which is great if you like to stick to a routine.
Online caregiver support groups are also an option if you are unable to set aside the time to meet in-person. A few of these utilize social media with Facebook groups, which makes it convenient for caregivers. This is a great way to stay connected with others while also taking care of your parent at any given notice.
- Get some rest.
Sometimes you may have so much to do that you have a difficult time sleeping at night. You might also feel guilty getting some rest while knowing that there are still tasks to be done. Does this sound like you? The anxiety and stress of the coming days can often prevent you from getting the rest you need.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 26 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Are you hitting this number? If not, try a few different things to make sure you get the rest you need so that you can start each day refreshed and ready to go.
Remove all paperwork from your room if it is overwhelming. Place these documents in a filing cabinet or drawer outside of your bedroom so that you do not look at it for the time being. Also, remove your electronics; keep your phone nearby, if necessary, but consider keeping your tablet or laptop out of your room so that you do not use it before going to bed.
If you need to, meditate before bed to relax. This can be a great addition to any nighttime ritual.
- Eat well-balanced meals.
How many times have you ordered fast-food when you did not have enough time to cook a healthy meal? Sometimes it might seem like there are not enough hours in the day to prepare meals for yourself and your family.
However, it is important to remember that you can still eat healthy, well-balanced meals without it taking up too much of your time. Also, remember that eating meals like these can give you the energy you need to feel good and take on the day.
The American Heart Association shares that one of the ways caregivers can eat more nutritious meals is by utilizing their freezer. When cooking, prepare meals for the week ahead, store them in individual containers, and freeze them so they are ready to reheat at any time. Also, remember to use more fruits and vegetables in your meals as well as whole-grain pasta or bread.
- Look for ways to stay grateful.
As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” These words are especially motivating when going through the challenges of caregiving. Sometimes it is important to just reflect on the small things in life to help reduce stress.
While meditating in the morning, take a few deep breaths and think about how grateful you are to be able to spend time with your parent. Think about how much your children mean to you, and how special it is to have family and friends in your life who are willing to help you take care of your parent. Reflect on these things and write them down if it helps.
Celebrate each of your accomplishments, even if they are small. What matters is that you remember the good in your everyday life. There is more to be grateful for than you think!
Preventing caregiver burnout starts with a few healthy habits. Know that it is okay if you cannot practice all of these healthy habits today. However, it is essential to try your best to relieve any stress you may be experiencing as a primary caregiver. Your physical health and mental health are important.
Know that caregiving may be stressful, but you are strong! Make it a priority to seek help from others and practice self-care to prevent yourself from experiencing too much stress that could result in burnout.
- “Caregiver Burnout.” Aging In Place, https://www.aginginplace.org/caregiver-burnout/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2020.
- Gerber, Charlotte. “Why Caregivers Should Consider Joining a Support Group.” Verywell, https://www.verywellhealth.com/why-caregivers-should-consider-joining-a-support-group-1094651. Accessed 27 Mar. 2020.
- “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” National Sleep Foundation, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need. Accessed 27 Mar. 2020.
- “Top 10 Cooking Tips For Caregivers.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/caregiver-support/top-10-cooking-tips-for-caregivers. Accessed 27 Mar. 2020.