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Plan For Tomorrow | 8 ways for caregivers to stay healthy
A young woman smiles and the elderly woman she cares for

8 ways for caregivers to stay healthy

Monday 16 November 2020 | Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Caregivers who stay healthy, both physically and mentally are better equipped to take care of others. Not taking the time for self-care can lead to an increased risk for some of these. 

  • Poor eating habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Illness

1. Be aware of the warning signs

Having too many responsibilities as a caregiver can become a major cause of stress. Too much stress can affect your psychological and physical health. It can lead to depression or anxiety, which can cause you to skip sleep or exercise, and eat poorly. This can then spiral into more serious, physical health problems. You should balance your responsibilities of caring for someone with self-care. Don't wait until you get overwhelmed. If you start to experience symptoms, like feeling down or having trouble sleeping, you should take action. 

2. Set personal goals

Prioritizing your caregiving tasks by breaking them up into small steps that you can schedule daily will help prevent you from being overwhelmed. Make a list, or calendar, of tasks to ensure you don’t forget anything and you can complete them in a reasonable amount of time. Establish a routine!

3. Let people help you

When you notice that your caregiving is affecting your life, it’s important to ask for help. Many caregivers fail to seek help because they think it means they are weak or inadequate. But asking for help when you need it doesn't mean you can't handle the responsibility. In fact, asking for help shows that you understand the value in maintaining your well-being; how you feel mentally and physically affects the care you provide for someone else. Ask your friends and family members to run errands for you or look after your loved one, so you can have some personal time. Try coming up with a list of ways that others can assist you, to give your helpers a choice on what they can do to help.

4. Seek support from others

Your community will likely have many caregiving resources. You may find classes that focus on coping with caregiving or services such as transportation, housekeeping, and meal delivery that can make your life a little less hectic. You should also consider seeking support from others. 

Support groups

People in support groups understand what you’re going through. Connecting with others in similar situations is a great way to get validation and encouragement, find meaningful friendships, and discover new strategies for caregiving.

Social support

You aren’t alone. Make time to connect with positive family members and friends who support you. 

5. Make regular doctor appointments

When you’re busy making sure you are caring for a loved one, it’s easy to forget your own health. Be sure to schedule regular medical checkups with your doctor. Let him or her know you’re a caregiver and don’t hesitate to disclose any emotional or physical symptoms you’re experiencing. The more information your doctor knows about you and your lifestyle the better advice and treatment you’ll receive.

6. Consider professional caregiving

There is no shame in getting help from home care services. The quality of care for your loved one and your self-care will suffer tremendously if you are overwhelmed by responsibilities. Home care is designed to help clients based on their personal needs. Even if you just get help with caregiving once a week, it could take a lot of stress off your back. 

7. Remember to eat healthily

Poor eating habits can affect your body's overall health. You'll have a harder time paying attention, organizing your thoughts, and understanding information, likely due to low blood sugar. You may also experience mood changes. To prevent this, eat healthy meals and snacks. Avoid fast foods. Healthy eating will give you more energy and reduce your risk of illness.

8. Make time for exercise

Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which help produce positive feelings. People who are physically active also improve their sleep quality and feel more alert during the day.


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