If you are a caregiver, you probably know that the number of hours this job demands is onerous. According to a recent AARP survey, caregivers report an average of more than 20 hours a week taking care of an older loved one. This is on top of the “day job” they already have as well as any other family duties they may have for a spouse or children at home. So who is taking care of the caregiver? One person who probably is not caring for the caregiver is the caregiver him/herself. If you are a caregiver for an older adult or someone else with special needs, try out these suggestions so that you can survive and even thrive your caregiving responsibilities.
1. Remember to laugh. It is no surprise that caregiving is stressful, and one of the casualties often is one’s sense of humor. Laughter is a great stress-reliever that we have to give in to regularly, because it will make everything else a lot easier.
2. Remember to be “normal.” Caregiving can be demanding and often unpredictable in ways that tend to take over one’s life. Perhaps you used to have a favorite television program or you enjoyed going for brisk morning walks or some other habit that gave you pleasure. Indulge yourself with one of these returns to normalcy and you will be more refreshed to return to your caregiving after.
3. Remember your friends or colleagues. Caregiving can squeeze one’s social life tremendously, and isolation can only make the weight all the heavier. Take time for a lunch or coffee with people you like, and some of the stress will go down a notch or two.
4. Remember to get help for the emotional demands. This can be in the form of a support group or perhaps a counselor or your cleric. Talk with someone who will help give you some coping tools and understand why you need them.
5. Remember to check up on your health. You probably attend all the doctor’s visits for your loved one, but when was the last time you had a check-up yourself? It is not just emotional health that can suffer under the stress of caregiving, so keep healthy.
6. Remember to forget some things. You may have a whole list of “must dos” on a weekly basis, and it is really acceptable to drop some items from your list. Hire someone to do your housekeeping or shoveling the walk or mowing your lawn.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org