Caregivers: 6 Tips to Take Care of You

Caregivers: 6 Tips to Take Care of You

Whether you have a loved one with a long-term or sudden illness, or an aging parent who needs your caregiving assistance, you’re far from alone. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 34 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older.

While feeling stressed or sometimes overwhelmed as a caregiver is normal, these tips can help put your mind at ease:

  1. Take care of you. Give yourself TLC, first and foremost. Keep a journal; even just writing a few sentences a day about what you’re going through can make a profound difference. Go for regular walks, eat well, get enough sleep and visit your doctor for checkups.

    “Being a personal or informal caregiver can be very rewarding, but also physically and emotionally draining,” said Erin David, MS, BSN, RN, Clinical Manager, Holland Hospital Home Health Services. “We frequently tell family caregivers that it’s okay to ‘just’ be a spouse, son or daughter. We encourage them to take advantage of community resources for respite. Often, they’re relieved knowing that using a respite service doesn’t mean they’ve failed as a caregiver; it’s a vital part of their own self-care

  2. Ask for and accept help. Remember, you’re not superhuman! Seek support from family, friends, other caregivers and local community resources. Organizations like the Red Cross, Caregiver Action Network and/or local Area Agency on Aging may offer classes in caregiving or simply added guidance.

    “For much-needed respite time, many private-duty agencies in the area provide personal care services—from housework and meal preparation to companionship,” David said. “There are also community-based programs like Evergreen Commons in Holland that allow loved ones to interact and participate in supervised activities.”

  3. Give yourself a break. Meditate for 15 minutes in the morning, meet a friend for lunch, sit alone enjoying a cup of coffee. Do something just for you every day.
  4. Do your homework. Even if your loved one is doing well on his/her own, it’s a good idea to research or visit local senior care facilities. Assisted living and long-term care facilities can have waiting lists, so it’s never too early to know your options. It’s also wise to consider financial and legal issues you might face as a caregiver. For help with these concerns, reach out to a geriatric care manager, social worker, elder law attorney or a caregivers’ organization like AARP or Family Caregiver Alliance.

  5. Be open to technology and apps that could organize and streamline key medical information or help coordinate family caregiver responsibilities like meals or rides to appointments.

  6. Don’t overextend yourself, even if ’tis the season to do so. Prioritize what brings you the most joy and the least stress. Embrace new holiday traditions, and simplify meals and activities.

Holland Hospital Home Health Services is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide a wide range of trusted, skilled support, from nursing care to physical and occupational therapy to remote telehealth monitoring. Talk with the primary care physician if you think or your loved one could benefit from these services.