Posted: December 15, 2022
If you are like millions of people caring for an older adult at home, it is likely that you put your loved ones needs over your own. The demands of caring for an older adult are more than just physical, they are also emotional. Over time, the stress of caregiving can lead to resentment, burnout and other health problems. Prioritizing self care as the primary caregiver of senior is one of the most important things you can do for both you and your loved one.
As a caregiver it is only natural to put your loved ones needs before your own, but you can’t give what you don’t have. If you are running on empty, you won’t be able to provide the care your loved one needs, and you could be putting your own health at risk.
Caregiver stress is all too common, according to the Mayo Clinic caregivers are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression and it is natural to feel angry, exhausted, frustrated, sad or alone. You may be so focused on caring for your loved one that you may not even realize your own health and wellbeing is suffering.
Studies show that long term stress can have a negative effect on your overall health including putting you at risk of medical problems. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness than non-caregivers such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Learning to recognize the signs is the first step on the road to taking charge of your health and wellness.
Signs of caregiver stress:
– Feeling overwhelmed
– Often feeling tired
– Weight gain/loss
– Frequent headaches
– Irritation or anger
– Losing interest in activities you typically enjoy
– Alcohol or drug abuse (including prescription medication)
Prioritizing self-care is not selfish, it’s responsible. How can you take care of someone else if you don’t take care of your own health? Decompressing and taking time for yourself is an important part in keeping yourself healthy for the long term. How do you start prioritizing your own needs?
First and foremost, learn to ask for help. As much as we want to be superheroes for our loved ones, sometimes even heroes need a hand. Don’t be afraid to ask other family members, friends and even neighbors for help with daily tasks like picking up dry cleaning or going on a grocery run. It is important to be realistic about what you can or cannot do.
Create boundaries. Having boundaries is important to maintaining healthy relationships and preventing burnout. Even as the primary caregiver of an older adult, creating boundaries can minimize any resentment that can come with the caregiver role.
There are resources out there to give you a hand such as transportation or meal delivery, look into what might be available in your community. And remember, you are not alone. There are support groups out there that can provide encouragement, provide advice for challenging situations and validation. There is power in community.
We all know that exercise, eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep are the foundations of living a healthier life but whole person wellness is more than that. While it is essential to take care of your body, don’t forget the needs of your mind and soul. Taking the time to be social and getting out for the night can do wonders for your psyche. You are your own person, and you need a life outside of daily work and caregiving responsibilities.
Other activities you can do to decompress:
– Listen to relaxing music
– Get a massage
– Go to church
– Take a hot bath
Remember, don’t be so hard on yourself and give yourself some grace. Be as kind as supportive to yourself as you would be for your best friend if they were in your position. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it can take a village to provide proper long-term care for an aging loved one as well.
Many adult children have feelings of guilt associated with moving their parent into an assisted living community. But there may come a time where continuing to care for your loved one at home is no longer feasible or safe. Your parent may no longer be able to safely stay at home while you are at work. Maybe they need more assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, than you can provide. Assisted living communities like Cappella of Pueblo West can be a great option.
With a full calendar of social, intellectual, inspirational, and physical programs, residents of Cappella of Pueblo West have many opportunities engage with others who share their interests and tastes. Our award-winning community is dedicated to improving the quality of life for older adults and our Rhythms Life Enrichment Philosophy of “Being Well Known” guides community life.
Contact us today to learn more about our community, we are happy to answer any questions you may have or to schedule a tour.